HANGZHOU, China — Patrick King Perez took the honor of becoming the first Filipino medalist in the 19th Asian Games when he bagged the bronze medal in the men’s individual poomsae event on Sunday at the Lin’an Sports Culture and Exhibition Centre here.
Combining speed, grace and poise under pressure, Perez, 23, scored 6.910 points to bow to Ma Yun Zhong of Chinese Taipei and settle for the bronze in the taekwondo discipline that combines both the freestyle and recognized events.
He registered 7.640 points in the recognized and 6.180 points in the freestyle while Ma had a combined output of 8.000 and 6.9000 in his routines.
Prior to that, the De La Salle University star defeated Souksavanh Chanthilath of Laos in the Round of 16 and Prem Bahadur Limbu of Nepal in the quarterfinals to book a semifinal clash with Ma.
Despite falling short of winning the title, Perez was still happy, saying that becoming the first Filipino medalist in the Asian Games came as a surprise.
“I couldn’t believe I won a bronze. I’m really happy. All the hard work had paid off,” said the 23-year-old Perez, who also won a gold medal in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games last May.
“After winning the SEA Games, I told myself that my next target is the Asian Games. I might have not won the gold, but it’s unbelievable that I got the bronze.”
“It’s a dream come true.”
Meanwhile, three-time SEA Games gold medalist Jocel Lyn Ninobla was not as fortunate as she logged 7.560 points to surrender to Kang Wanjin of South Korea, who registered 7.680 points, in the Round of 16 of the women’s individual poomsae.
Also failing to win a medal is wushu artist Agatha Wong, who finished fourth in the taijiquan and taijijian event.
The comely 25-year-old Wong scored a total of 19.456 points to miss the podium behind gold medalist Xin Tong of China with 19.696 points, Basma Lachkar of Brunei with 19.502 points and Suijin Chen of Hong Kong with 19.476 points.
“I think since I’m getting quite older, it’s getting more difficult training. But I still continue working hard because I really like it,” said Wong, who will resume her studies at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center.
Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said Perez’s victory that came in the very first day of hostilities is “a good start and a good sign.”
He, however, lamented the loss of Wong, who came in as an Asian Games bronze medalist and a five-time SEA Games gold medalist.
“It was so close, she could have retained her bronze medal,” the POC chief said.
Over at the Hangzhou Aquatics Sports Arena, the quartet of Teia Salvino, Jasmine Alkhaldi, Chloe Isleta and Xiandi Chua made their presence felt as they qualified in the final of the women’s 4×100-meter freestyle.
‘It’s a dream come true.’
Two-time Olympic medalist Kayla Sanchez didn’t see action to preserve her energy in the final, but Salvino, Alkhaldi, Isleta and Chua still got the job done as they posted three minutes and 48.06 seconds to emerge fifth in the preliminary heats and book a spot in the medal race later in the day.
If ever, it’s going to be the first Asian Games Olympic medal for the Filipinos since 1998.
In boxing, Mark Ashley Fajardo was off to a roaring start when he booked a first-round knockout of Dorji Wangdi of Bhutan in the Round of 16 of the men’s 63.5-kilogram event.
Fajardo made it quick and easy by setting up Wangdi with a straight right before delivering a left to the jaw that sent his foe dropping to the canvas. The Bhutan fighter tried to beat the mandatory eight count, but he stood on wobbly legs that prompted the referee to stop the bout at 2:21 mark.
“It was unexpected. I didn’t expect that it would happen,” said Fajardo, who is making a lot of heads turn in his debut in the Asian Games.
Olympians Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno hope to ride on the momentum created by Fajardo’s victory as they tackle separate foes at press time.
Marcial, a bronze medalist in the Tokyo Olympics, is clashing with Dalai Ganzorig in the men’s 80-kg class while Magno is facing Nigina Uktamova of Uzbekistan at press time for the vaunted boxing squad that saw the downfall of Aira Villegas in the women’s 50-kg class.