HANOI—Kickboxers Gina Iniong-Araos and Jean Claude Saclag gave the Philippine campaign in the 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games a big shot in the arm by retaining their crowns at the Bac Ninh Gymnasium here.
Showing aggressiveness throughout, Iniong-Araos, 32, of Baguio City, scored a 2-1 victory over the bigger and wider Jaiteang Waraporn of Thailand to claim the gold in the women’s low kick 60kg finals.
Not to be outdone, Saclag matched the aggressiveness and savvy of another Thai, Chaleamlap Santidongsakum, to score a 2-1 win in the men’s 63.5kg low kick finals as the Pinoy kickboxers finished their stint here with a medal harvest of two gold, four silver, and two bronze medals.
Vietnam ruled kickboxing with a tally of 5-0-6, followed by Thailand with 2-4-6.
The two gold medals jacked up the Philippine tally to 5-12-11 at the end of action Friday.
The victory was especially sweet for Iniong-Araos, who showed doubters that she can still hack it after giving birth to a baby girl two years ago after ruling 55kg light kick event in the Philippine SEA Games in 2019.
“Naging challenge sa akin ang mga negative comment ng marami na kesyo sabi nila, ‘Ano ba ‘yan? Nanganak na lalaban pa, ba’t ‘di na lang alaagan ang anak?’” said Aniong-Araos, who will also see action in vovinam, a Vietnamese form of martial art.
Philippine Olympic Committee President and newly-elected Tagaytay mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez, the chief of mission of the national team here, watched the finals.
Their presence proved to be a big boost for Saclag, who said: “Masarap lagi ang first (gold). Pero masarap din ang pangalawa, para sa bayan!”
The other Pinoy finalists — Renalyn Daquel, Gretel De Paz, Zephania Ngaya and Claudine Veloso – settled for silver medals.