During the 29th edition of the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), held last August 19 to 30, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, representatives from each region sent their best athletes to compete, showcase their skills, and represent the country.
The Philippines ranked 6th place overall, bringing home 121 medals: 24 gold, 33 silver, and 64 bronze medals. Among the 497 Filipino athletes that participated in the SEA Games, 21 of them, including one reserve, came from DLSU.
Geuel Asia of the Green Spikers was part of the men’s volleyball team that finished third in their group stage but was unable to advance to the next round. Unlike the men’s team, the women’s team managed to perform better as they settled for fourth place. Kim Fajardo and Dawn Macandili of the Lady Spikers helped the National Team reach the semifinals but ultimately lost against Thailand and then Vietnam in the battle for the bronze medal.
The team captain of the Green Tracksters, Michael del Prado, was able to notch a bronze medal in the men’s 4 x 400m relay. Having to balance the training schedule of a national player, as well as a student athlete, was quite a challenge for Del Prado, but this did not stop him from performing wholeheartedly during the competition. “Una medyo kabado, in a way na mas malaki na yung ni-rerepresent mo, both La Salle and the Philippines. Pero masaya ka kasi ibig sabihin na pinagkakatiwalaan ka nila na kaya mong panindigan yung duty na binigay sa iyo.” (At first I was nervous, in a way, because I’m representing both La Salle and the Philippines. But I was happy because it means that they entrusted me with the responsibility to carry out the duty.)
With the upcoming UAAP Season 80 nearing and with it being his last playing year, he shared his goals and aspirations as the team captain of the DLSU team. “Siyempre pressured, siyempre lahat naman ng mga naging captain or athletes na nasa ganitong stage, gusto nila mag-exit na maganda so we will do our best and tiwala ako sa team ko na they won’t let me down and I won’t let them down.” (Pressured, of course, all the captains or athletes who have been in my place wanted to leave behind a successful team, so we will do our best and I will put trust in my team to not let me down, and for me to not let them down.)
Alyssa Leonardo of the Lady Shuttlers advanced to the quarterfinals of both the women’s doubles and mixed doubles, losing to Thailand and Vietnam, respectively.
UAAP Season 79 Most Valuable Player, Emy Dael, and team captain Jamaica Sy represented the Lady Paddlers in the SEA Games but fell just short of winning a medal. As the tension of the SEA Games escalated for the women’s division, Coach Lauro Crisostomo, who is currently coaching the national team and the table tennis team of DLSU simultaneously, encouraged the girls to pursue the training programs that were prepared for them. “He recommends the training program din so mas intense sa National Team and mas focused compared dito,” Sy mentioned.
Having represented the Philippines before as part of the Junior National Team, Sy explained that she felt pressure during the tournament because of the expectations that they needed to meet, “Never pa kami nagka-medal so parang nag strive talaga kami ng best namin na magka-medal kaso kinapos lang kami.” (We haven’t won a medal yet and so that pushed us to strive for the best, for a medal, unfortunately, what we did wasn’t enough.)
Additionally, she shared that participating in the SEA Games became an opportunity for her to grow as an athlete, especially because the UAAP season is already ongoing. “Super important nito kasi malaking advantage siya, kasi mas matalino ka na maglaro, mas experienced sa mga crucial games, alam mo paano mo i-hahandle, pero pagdating kasi sa UAAP, lahat ng players, ito yung pinaghahandaan every year and siyempre, yung training todo bigay din kasi alam naman natin gaano ito ka-important in every student athletes’ life.”
(This is very important because it became a big advantage for me as it improved my game and I became more experienced, in terms of crucial plays and how to deal with them. In UAAP, all the athletes train hard every year, and of course, we always give our all when we train because UAAP is important to every college student’s life.)
The only Lasallian present in the men’s archery team was former Olympian, Gabriel Moreno, who bagged a bronze medal in the men’s team recurve. Although he earned a gold medal in the team event, Moreno failed to get past the quarterfinals of the individual event of the men’s recurve.
Raphael Mella of the Green Jins was able to grab a gold medal in the men’s team Poomsae as he teamed up with his brother, Dustin Mella, and Rodolfo Reyes. Having represented the Philippines before, he still felt anxious about competing in an international event as he was carrying the name of the country. Behind his victory, comes the effort and sacrifice he exerts in his training and other daily routines, “After every meal, we train, and then rest if there is time.” With the UAAP season coming up, he vows that he will train and perform with the mindset he had during the SEA Games.
Although some of his teammates in the National Team may be his competition during the season, his relationship with the National Team was well refined. “In the National Team, most of the players come from different schools, which [are] mostly our opponents sa UAAP. But in the case of the National Team, we are all teammates and friends, and we try to get to each other’s level,” the BS Computer Science major explained.
Yoshi Koizumi was the only Lasallian included in the men’s football team as they only wound up with six points in their group stage, thus eliminating them from competing in the next round. Sara Castañeda, Kyra Dimaandal, Kyla Inquig, Regine Metillo, Irish Navaja, and Inna Palacios of the reigning UAAP Women’s Football champions were called up to represent the women’s football team but like their men’s counterparts, they would also finish in the fourth spot in the group stage, which was not enough to reach the next round.
Former Lady Spikers Abigail Marano and Mika Reyes also suited up for the women’s volleyball team, however, they were unable to help the team earn a medal in this year’s SEA Games.
Almond Vosotros, formerly of the Green Archers, won his second consecutive gold medal as the Gilas Pilipinas basketball team dominated the entire tournament with a sweep. Vosotros was the only Lasallian included in the line-up, unlike the last edition of the SEA Games wherein the trio of Vosotros, Norbert Torres, and Prince Rivero won the the gold medal together.
Participating in such a prestigious tournament like the SEA Games is a massive honor for any athlete, with winning a medal just an added bonus. The experience gained after participating in this tournament will surely help all of these Lasallians in their individual careers.