The year 2019 was a big moment for the country’s national athletes, thanks to the 30th Southeast Asian Games being hosted here in the Philippines. Despite misgivings about the cost of providing venues for competitors from 11 participating SEA nations, it became worth it when Team PH scored enough medals to become overall SEA Games champion, a feat only topped by the first Philippine Olympic Gold in Tokyo 2020/21. But when the COVID pandemic struck in 2020, it caused next SEA Games host Vietnam to put off the original 2021 date. After some uncertainty, the games finally opened this past Thursday, with the Philippines off to a good start medal-wise.

According to Inquirer.net, Team Philippines currently stands at fourth place in that overall medal tally for the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi. Filipino athletes thus far have won 3 gold medals and 9 each from silver and bronze for a total SEA Games take of 21. One gold medal can be attributed to gymnastics prodigy and Tokyo 2021/21 Olympian Carlos Yulo, who wowed during the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics All-Around this Friday, May 13. Another top medalist today was Jack Escarpe. He bagged gold for the Kurash Central-Asian wrestling event, in the 73-kilogram men’s division.

If one wonders at the medals earned by the Philippines when the SEA Games only officially opened the evening of May 12, then that is because some events were already contested as early as Tuesday, May 10. Before the opening ceremony, events such as Kurash, Pencak Silat, Rowing and Beach Handball were already held. For each respective event, Team PH also claimed 3 silver and 3 bronze (Kurash men and women), a gold and bronze (Pencak Silat men and women), a silver and bronze (Rowing men and women), and a silver (Beach Handball). Mary Francine Cezar Padios (Women’s Single Pencak Silat) gained first PH gold this SEA Games, May 11.

In addition to his solo win, Carlos Yulo as part of the Philippine Men’s Artistic Gymnastics Team secured a silver in that event. This makes Yulo a multiple medalist for the Vietnam SEA Games 2021/22, alongside rower CJ Jasmin. More silver and bronze medals were also secured by the nation’s athletes in Men’s Wushu as well as in Men and Women’s Kickboxing, in addition to other aforementioned Kurash and Rowing events that were contested Friday.

While good, the Philippines has a ways to go to catch up with the Top three medal countries: host Vietnam (22G/11S/16B=49), Malaysia (11G/5S/10B=26), and Indonesia (7G/9S/2B=18). The 31st SEA Games will play out until May 23, two Mondays from now.

Image from Vietnam Investment Review