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KUALA LUMPUR—Team Philippines snared its 20th gold from Josephine
Medina in table tennis to complete a much improved fifth place finish in the ninth
ASEAN Para Games that officially ended yesterday at the Bukit Jalil National
Stadium here. Medina, a 47-year- old 2016 Rio Paralympics bronze medalist, was
all determination as she turned back a pesky Suwarti of Indonesia, 12-10, 10-12,
11-9, 11-9, to claim the gold in the event she lorded over since the second
edition this same country hosted 14 years ago. After the win, the Phl has
collected a total of 20 golds, 20 silvers and 29 bronzes, which was good for fifth
overall behind runaway champion Indonesia, who had a 126-75- 50 (gold-silver-
bronze) harvest, host Malaysia’s 90-85- 84, Thailand’s 68-73- 94 and Vietnam’s
40-61- 60. It was a significant improvement to the 16-17- 26 haul and seventh
place effort in the 2015 Singapore edition. Athletics, drawing strength from three
golds each by teenage sprint phenom Cielo Honasan and wheelchair-bound
thrower Cendy Asusano, scooped up nine golds, five silvers and six bronzes,
four more than their output in Singapore. Chess, spearheaded by triple-gold
medal winner FIDE Master Sander Severino, fell short of its seven-gold target but
still wound up as the country’s second best performing sport with a 4-3- 6 haul
while swimming, behind Ernie Gawilan’s twin triumphs had three golds, three
silvers and five bronzes. Cyclist Arthus Bucay, tenpin bowler Christopher Yue
and Paralympian powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta gave the Phl a gold
each from their respective events. And Medina had no plans going empty
handed. Showing nerves of steel, Medina was a picture of calm as she bested a
nervous Suwarti to carve out the four-set win. Up two sets to one and at match
point at 10-9, Medina uncorked a soft forehand that kissed the top of the net and
landed on the board for the decisive point after the lady umpire called it a point
for the Phl bet. It was a call that Suwarti and her coach didn’t like, saying the ball
bounced on the table just once, not twice. But after some consultations with the
scorer and a higher tournament official, the decision sticks. Gold No. 20 sealed

and delivered. “They (Suwarti and her coach) told me the call was wrong. But I
told them it was not my fault and call, it was the umpire who made the decision
and we should respect it,” said Medina in Filipino. Medina will thus go home with
two medals, including the team bronze alongside Minnie de Ramos in the higher
S9-S10 class a couple of days back. Earlier, Darwin Salvacion fell to Thai
Wittaya Wichaiwattana, 5-11, 8-11, 5-11, and went home with a bronze. Although
the team failed goal of capturing 27 golds, Phl chef de mission Ral Rosario said it
was still a proud accomplishment. “We went home with 20 golds, four more than
what we took home in Singapore. And that’s all that matters,” said Rosario. The
Filipinos are scheduled to fly back home today with their focus now on the
country’s hosting of the 10th ASEAN Para Games two years from now. “We’re
host the 10th ASEAN Para Games two years from now and we have to start
preparation as soon as we get back,” said Michael Barredo, the newly elected
president of the Phl Paralympic Committee, para athletes’ version of the Phl
Olympic Committee.