SEA Games 2023: Philippines ranks 2nd in medal tally after back-to-back gold wins

MANILA, Philippines – Team Philippines is off to a good start at the 32nd Southeast Asian Games held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. As of May 5, 11:00 a.m., the Philippines ranks 2nd in the medal tally.

The Philippines is just tailing behind host country, Cambodia, in the medal tally. The country already won its first 2 gold, 2 silver, and 3 bronze, to a total of 7 medals. Cambodia is at the lead with 9 medals.

25-year-old Kaila Napolis bags Team Philippines’ first gold medal. She defeated Cambodia’s Jessica Khan at the Jitsu Women’s Ne-waza Nogi -52kg event held at the Chroy Changvar Convention Center on Thursday, May 4. Napolis surprised the Cambodian team when she swept all four assignments, including the final match. It was a satisfying win for Napolis since Khan was her former foe and had previously defeated her in the gold match at the 2019 SEA Games in Manila.

“I really wanted to win against her this time,” Napolis admitted.

Aside from Napolis, the Philippine jiu-jitsu team also bagged two bronze medals from Jan Harvey Navarro and Karl Dale Navarro from the men’s duo and Isabela Montaña and Dianne Bargo for the women’s show.

Kaila Napolis and Angel Gwen Derla win the Philippine team’s first back-to-back gold
Kaila Napolis and Angel Gwen Derla win the Philippine team’s first back-to-back gold at the 32nd SEA Games. Photo Courtesy: Philippine Sports Commission

Meanwhile, the Philippine team’s second gold came from 19-year-old Angel Gwen Derla from Cabuyao, Laguna. Derla bagged the gold at the Cambodian indigenous sport, kun bokator. Derla bagged the win with a surprising 8.5 points, defeating Cambodian start Chanchhorvy Puth. Kun bokator is a form of Cambodian martial arts and is considered to be one of the oldest fighting systems in the world.

It was Derla’s first SEA Games, and she was thrilled to be half of the country’s first back-to-back gold wins. She said, “All of us athletes give our best to win the gold medal.”

Aside from Derla, the Philippine team’s Mark James Lacao from the men’s bamboo shield and Rhichein Yosorez from the women’s barehard form, both won silver medals. Alyssa Kylie Mallari, for women’s bokator spirit form took home bronze.

The 32nd SEA Games will officially start with it’s opening ceremony at the Morodok Techo National Stadium on Friday, May 5, at 4 pm (5 pm, Manila time). Leading the parade of Filipino athletes is Volleyball star Alyssa Valdez as the Philippines’ flag bearer.

— Sally, The Summit Express