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2021 SEA Games

ASEAN Para Games: Swimmer Otom emerges as first PH triple gold medalist


Angel Otom bagged two more gold medals, including one in record-breaking time, to emerge as the country’s first triple gold medalist as the Philippine para swimmers emerged with four mints from the Jatidiri Sports Complex pool in Semarangin in Surakarta, Indonesia.

Picking up from where she left off, Otom was a runaway winner in the women’s 50-meter butterfly S5 event in 48.070 seconds, nearly eight seconds faster than the 17-year-old mark of 56.80 set by Singapore’s R.T. Goh in the Manila ASEAN Para Games in 2005.

She finished so far ahead of Vietnamese tankers Thi Sari Nguyen and Thi My Thanh Dan, who were second and third in times of 1:14.150 and 1:32.460, respectively.

As an encore, the 19-year-old pride of Olongapo City added her second mint in the women’s 50-meter freestyle S5 event, leading the way from start to finish in clocking 41.40 seconds, much to the delight of her parents Marlou and Mila Otom, who flew all the way from Manila just to watch their daughter perform.

“I am so happy but it has not sunk in yet that I am the country’s first triple gold medalist,” said Otom of her outstanding achievement as a rookie in the biennial sportsfest.

“Iba po talaga na makita namin na manalo ang anak naming si Angel. Ito po pala ang feeling nananalo ang anak namin,” chorused Otom’s parents in witnessing their daughter see action for the first time.

Ernie Gawilan scooped up his second gold medal in topping the men’s 200-meter individual medley SM7 in record-breaking fashion as well in 2:49.530, sinking the 14-year-old mark of 4:00.02 by Salungyoo Rawin of Thailand in the 2008 Bangkok Games.

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A pleasant surprise was rookie Marco Tinamisan, who won the swimming team’s fourth mint in topping the men’s 50-meter freestyle S3 event in 54.660 seconds in the outing supported by the Philippine Sports Commission.

Over at the Manahan Stadium, wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan secured his second gold in ruling the men’s 400-meter T5 race in 1:06.20 while teammate Rodrigo Potiotan Jr. finished third but did not get a medal since there were only three entries in the event (1:09.870).

Gary Bejino lost by a touch to Thailand’s Aekkharin Noithatto and settled for a silver in the men’s 50m butterfly S6 event in 35.440 seconds to the former’s 35.300 seconds before securing another silver in the men’s 50m freestyle (34.40).

The duo of Russel Cundangan and Mary Ann Taguinod likewise took the silver in the J1-J2 women’s team event of judo.

With the combined five golds of athletics and swimming, the Philippines raised its overall medal tally to 19 golds, 16 silvers and 34 bronzes, just one gold shy of the 20 golds the PH para-athletes won in the 2017 edition of the meet held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Philippines was poised to add another gold in the men’s P1 team event after FIDE Master Sander Severino and Jasper Rom downed their separate rivals in the fifth and penultimate round at the Lo-rin Hotel.

With their victories, the Filipino chessers were assured of their fifth gold regardless of the outcome of the final round.

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