Philippines make a clean sweep of marathon, obstacle course gold medals

Sandi Abahan celebrates winning gold in women’s 5k x 20 obstacle course. (AFP pic)

MANILA: Host nation the Philippines polished off a clean sweep of obstacle course gold medals at the SEA Games on Friday with wins in the men’s and women’s 5km category.

Mervin Guarte and Sandi Abahan jumped, swung and clambered their way to victory in the 20-obstacle race in Manila, completing a six-out-of-six haul for the home team in the event’s SEA Games debut.

Philippine racers Sherwin Managil and Glorien Merisco took both silvers in the outdoor event at Filinvest City, which included a balance beam, tilting ladder, monkey bar and a slip wall covered in water.

About 8,750 athletes and officials are taking part in the regional Olympics spread across dozens of venues in the northern Philippines, which was hit by a deadly typhoon earlier this week.

The marathon kicked off the athletics programme at the Games’ main hub in New Clark City, where Filipino runner Christine Hallasgo caused a major upset by edging countrywoman Mary Joy Tabal to take gold.

Hallasgo pulled away in the final stretch to beat the reigning SEA Games champion by two minutes in 2hr 56min 56sec.

Indonesian Prayogo Agus won the men’s race with a time of 2:26:48, ahead of Thailand’s Namkhet Sanchai (2:27:18) and Malaysia’s Mohamad Muhaizar (2:33:08).

The 11-country Games, featuring a record 56 sports, were rocked by Typhoon Kammuri which forced about half of Tuesday’s events to be rescheduled.

Despite 13 deaths in the storm, none of the athletes, officials or 12,000 volunteers were reported hurt and a full programme resumed on Wednesday.

Later on Friday, Olympic champion Joseph Schooling will return to the pool as he bids to hit back from his disappointing silver in the 50 metres butterfly.

Schooling, who won six gold medals at the last Games in 2017, lost his 50m title to fellow Singaporean Teong Tzen Wei late on Thursday.

Just eight months from the Tokyo Olympics, Schooling, 24, will hope to hit back in his pet 100m butterfly – which he famously won ahead of Michael Phelps at the Rio 2016 Summer Games.

Six more golds will be up for grabs on Friday at the aquatics centre in New Clark City, the Games’ main hub north of Manila, including the women’s 200m freestyle and women’s 3m springboard diving.

The Philippines remained in firm control of the medals table on Friday with 67 golds – well up on its 2017 total of 24.

Seven of the last 11 host nations have finished top of the medals table at the SEA Games, where the flexible sporting programme is traditionally heavily weighted towards the home team.