A Golden Finish: How Team Philippines Achieved its Best Overseas SEA Games Performance in Decades

Team Philippines SEA Games
Explore the key highlights, athletes’ performances, and learn how the team achieved this extraordinary feat. Team Philippines at the Closing Ceremonies of Cambodia 2023 SEA Games.

The Philippines culminated its campaign at the Cambodia Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023, amassing an impressive 58 gold medals – marking one of the country’s most fruitful overseas stints in the regional showcase since 1987. This successful outing was propelled by a late surge, encapsulating the tenacity and spirit of Team Philippines.

On Wednesday, May 17, Team Philippines wrapped up its Cambodia SEA Games journey, securing 58 golds, a feat not achieved since the 1987 SEA Games in Indonesia where the country amassed 59 golds. This resounding success was not only restricted to golds but was visible across the board with the overall medal tally reaching 260 – 85 silvers and 117 bronzes. This outperformed the previous year’s haul of 227 medals at the Vietnam SEA Games.

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While traditionally, the host country shines in SEA Games, the Philippines has also made its mark when hosting, with the highest gold hauls recorded in 2019 (149 golds), 2005 (112 golds), and 1991 (91 golds).

At the onset, it seemed a challenging task for Team Philippines to outdo the 52-gold achievement from last year’s SEA Games, given they stood in sixth place with 31 golds as of Friday, May 12. But the story was far from over.

A tide of success washed over the Philippines as taekwondo, boxing, weightlifting, arnis, kickboxing, and wrestling rallied to bag 27 golds in the final four days of the games. This exemplary performance allowed the team to clinch fifth place overall, following Vietnam (136 golds), Thailand (108), Indonesia (87), and host Cambodia (81).

The final two days saw arnis, kickboxing, and wrestling particularly outshine, earning 10 of the 12 golds won during this period. Wrestling champions Tina Vergara, Alvin Lobreguito, and Ronil Tubog; kickboxing victors Claudine Veloso, Gretel de Paz and Jean Claude Saclag, along with arnis gold medalists Dexter Bolambao, Maria Ella Alcoseba, Crisamuel Delfin, and Trixie Marie Lofranco all played pivotal roles in this grand finale.

The individual stories of triumph are numerous. Carlos Yulo, the gymnastics star, emerged as the best-performing athlete from the Philippines with two golds and two silvers. Ernest John Obiena broke the pole vault SEA Games record a total of four times. Boxers Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam secured ring supremacy for Filipinos.

Double gold medalists from soft tennis, Bien Zoleta and Princess Catindig, also contributed significantly to the Philippines’ golden success. Meanwhile, swimming veteran Jasmine Alkhaldi showcased outstanding consistency, bringing home the most medals with four silvers and three bronzes.

In team sports, the men of Gilas Pilipinas wrested back the basketball championship against the home squad while Team Sibol e-sports continued its dominance in the regional games with a gold in League of Legends: Wild Rift and another top finish in men’s Mobile Legends.

The Cambodia SEA Games 2023 has indeed been a golden chapter in the history of Philippine sports, a testament to the athletes’ unwavering dedication, resilience, and pursuit of excellence. As we look back at the Games, one can’t help but wonder – how did Team Philippines manage to pull off this extraordinary feat?

Following are the 58 Gold Medalists of Team Philippines at the 2023 SEA Games:

  1. Kaila Napolis – jiu-jitsu, women’s ne-waza GI -52kg
  2. Angel Gwen Derla – kun bokator, women’s bamboo shield form
  3. Precious Cabuya – women’s obstacle course racing
  4. Mark Julius Rodelas – men’s obstacle course racing
  5. Sakura Alforte – karate, women’s individual kata
  6. Annie Ramirez – jiu-jitsu, women’s ne-waza NOGI -57kg
  7. Matthew Hermosa, Inaki Lorbes, Kira Ellis, Erica Burgos – aquathlon, mixed relay
  8. Milky Mae Tejares, Mecca Cortizano, Sandi Menchi Abahan, Marites Nocyao – obstacle course racing, women’s team relay
  9. Ahgie Radan, Elias Tabac, Mervin Guarte, Jose Mari de Castro – obstacle course racing, men’s team relay
  10. Kim Mangrobang – duathlon, women’s division
  11. Jamie Lim – karate, women’s kumite 61kg
  12. Bien Zoleta-Mañalac, Princess Catindig – soft tennis, women’s doubles
  13. Marc Lim – jiu-jitsu, men’s ne-waza NOGI -69kg
  14. Sibol: Golden Hart Dajao, Aaron Mark Bingay, Reniel Angara, Gerard Gelacio, Chammy Paul Nazarrea, Justine Ritchie Tan – esports, League of Legends: Wild Rift
  15. Fernando Casares – triathlon, men’s division
  16. Carlos Yulo – gymnastics, men’s individual all-around
  17. Robin Catalan – kun bokator, men’s combat 50kg
  18. Xiandi Chua – swimming, women’s 200m backstroke
  19. EJ Obiena – athletics, men’s pole vault
  20. John Ivan Cruz – gymnastics, men’s floor exercise
  21. Juancho Miguel Besana – gymnastics, men’s vault
  22. Carlos Yulo – gymnastics, men’s parallel bars
  23. Janry Ubas – athletics, men’s long jump
  24. Teia Salvino – swimming, women’s 100m backstroke
  25. Bien Zoleta, Princess Catindig, Christy Sañosa, Fatima Amirul – soft tennis, women’s team event
  26. Joseph Arcilla – soft tennis, men’s singles
  27. Eric Cray – athletics, men’s 400m hurdles
  28. Agatha Wong – wushu, women’s taijiquan + taijijian
  29. Jocel Lyn Ninobla, Nicole Labayne, Aidaine Laxa – taekwondo, women’s team recognized poomsae
  30. Patrick King Perez – taekwondo, men’s individual recognized poomsae
  31. Frederick Ramirez, Joyme Sequita, Michael Carlo del Prado, Umajesty Williams – athletics, men’s 4x400m relay team
  32. Ian Clark Bautista – boxing, men’s 57kg
  33. Kurt Barbosa – taekwondo, men’s -54kg
  34. Arven Alcantara – taekwondo, men’s -68 kg
  35. Samuel Morrison – taekwondo, men’s -87kg
  36. Kirstie Alora – taekwondo, women’s -73kg
  37. Francis Casey Alcantara, Ruben Gonzales – tennis, men’s doubles
  38. Elreen Ando – weightlifting, women’s 59kg
  39. Carlo Paalam – boxing, men’s 54kg
  40. Rena Furukawa – judo, women’s -57kg
  41. Paul Julyfer Bascon – boxing, men’s 60kg
  42. Sibol: Rowgien Stimpson Unigo, David Canon, Vrendon Lin, Kyle Angelo Sayson, Nowee Macasa, Angelo Arcangel, Marco Requitano – esports, men’s Mobile Legends
  43. Nesthy Petecio – boxing, women’s 57kg
  44. Jedah-Mae Soriano – arnis, women’s full contact padded stick (lightweight)
  45. Charlotte Ann Tolentino – arnis, women’s full contact padded stick (bantamweight)
  46. Jason Balabal – wrestling, men’s Greco Roman 82kg
  47. Vanessa Sarno – weightlifting, women’s 71kg
  48. Cristina Vergara – wrestling, women’s freestyle -65kg
  49. Maria Ella Alcoseba – arnis, women’s full contact live stick (bantamweight)
  50. Dexter Bolambao – arnis, men’s full contact live stick (bantamweight)
  51. Jean Claude Saclag – kickboxing, men’s low kick 63kg
  52. Alvin Lobreguito – wrestling, men’s freestyle 57kg
  53. Trixie Lofranca – arnis, men’s individual anyo non-traditional open weapon
  54. Crisamuel Delfin – arnis, men’s individual anyo non-traditional open weapon
  55. Gilas Pilipinas – basketball, men’s 5-on-5
  56. Ronil Tubog – wrestling, men’s freestyle 61kg
  57. Gretel de Paz – kickboxing, women’s low kick -56kg
  58. Claudine Veloso – kickboxing, women’s K1 -52kg

SEND CONGRATULATIONS in the comments below to Team Philippines for its best overseas SEA Games performance in decades!

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