Four national sports associations (NSA) emerged as the biggest winners, giving the country half of its golden harvest in the 31st Southeast Asian Games.,Gymnastics, dancesport, athletics, and billiards accounted for 26 of the country’s 52 total gold medals in the biennial meet that came to a close on Monday night at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi.,World champion Carlos Yulo led the medal parade as he pocketed five gold and two silver medals while Filipino-American Aleah Finnegan debuted in the SEA Games in style with two gold and two silver medals to help the Filipinos emerge as second with the most number of medals with 14 behind the host country with 22.,Gymnastics president Cynthia Carrion said their victory is the result of their hard work, especially Yulo, who juggles his time as a student-athlete at Teikyo University in Tokyo.,“I’m very proud of our accomplishments. You cannot imagine how he worked hard. When he came to Manila, Caloy was very inspired,” said Carrion, who found a gem in Finnegan.,“Aleah is a United States athlete and she won medals back there. I went through a lot of work to get her in. It’s a lot of work but it was worth it because she got a gold medal.”,Also making its mark is dancesport, which managed to collect five gold medals.,Sean Mischa Aranar and Ana Leonila Nualla were accounted for three gold medals in Tango, Viennese Waltz, and Five Dances; Mark Jayson Gayon and Mary Joy Renigen dominated the Slow Foxtrot while Michael Angelo Marquez and Stephanie Sabalo conquered the Cha Cha event.,Philippine Dancesport Federation president Becky Garcia is happy with their triumph despite the Vietnamese domination in this purely subjective event.,“They did their best. The Vietnamese couples were very good but our athletes were good as well. It was actually a close fight,” Garcia said.,Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) president Philip Ella Juico is also satisfied with their performance, especially the homegrown athletes who trained in Baguio City amid the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.,All in all, the tracksters cornered five gold, seven silver, and 14 bronze medals for a third-place finish behind Vietnam (22-14-8) and Thailand (12-11-8).,Accounting for the gold medals were Clinton Kingsley Bautista in the men’s 110-meter hurdles, Eric Cray in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, EJ Obiena in men’s pole vault, William Morrison in men’s shot put, and Kayla Richardson in women’s 100-meter run.,“It was a fighting loss,” said Juico, whose wards cornered 11 gold, eight silver, and eight bronze medals in the previous SEA Games in 2019.,“Despite the effects of the pandemic during our buildup, our athletes still fought their hearts out that led them to break some national records. I am still proud of the team. Our athletes did everything to win.”,Juico said they will bounce back to reclaim the glory in the next biennial meet in Cambodia.,“We will definitely turn all our bronze medals into gold in Cambodia next year,” he said.,Cue artists also made their presence felt as they won four gold medals – two from Rubilen Amit and one apiece from Johann Chua and Carlo Biado.,Billiards secretary general Robert Mananquil said Biado and Chua’s stint in the United States played a key role in their success.,“The good thing is that our athletes have pool tables in their homes,” Mananquil said.,“When everything started to open up, Biado and Johann Chua managed to play in the United States too. That was our saving grace.”,
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