Kayla Sanchez came close to ending the Philippines’ swimming medal drought in the Asian Games but couldn’t keep up with her high-speed Chinese rivals in the finals.
She settled for fifth place overall in the women’s 100m freestyle at the 19th Asian Games.
Sanchez clocked 54.69 seconds, setting another new national record, which was one-tenth of a second faster than the time she registered in Tuesday’s morning heats at the Hangzhou Olympic Aquatic Center in Hangzhou, China.
The new Philippine record time is also the fastest among Southeast Asian competitors, as Sanchez surpassed Singapore’s Ting Wen Quah’s 55.38, which was only good for 7th place overall in the race dominated by Hong Kong China’s Siobhan Bernadette Haughey.
Earlier, Sanchez kept the country’s hopes alive by placing third overall in the qualifications with a time of 54.70 seconds, surpassing the 54.71 new Philippine record she had set just last Sunday in her split in the women’s 4x100m freestyle race, where the country also posted a new national record.
Despite missing the podium, Sanchez, who is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee, remains very upbeat as she is still competing in the women’s 50m free, 100m back, and two more relay races.
“This is my first international competition since my residency. I came here to get back into the competitive environment and atmosphere, so I’m slowly getting more comfortable, and I’m really happy with my races so far.”
When asked about her reaction to establishing three new Philippine records in the sport, Sanchez beamed with pride.
“Of course, I’m so proud, and it’s an honor that I’m able to represent the Philippines,” said the 22-year-old swimmer.
Meanwhile, Xiandi Chua, who celebrated her 22nd birthday on Tuesday, finished seventh in the finals of the women’s 200m backstroke, with a time of 2:14.39.
Jasmine Alkhaldi (women’s 100m free) and Chloe Kennedy Isleta had early exits when they failed to make the top 8 in their respective events during the morning heats.