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Filipino arnis athletes end SEA Games campaign with record 14 golds

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ANGELES CITY -- Four podium finishes closed the Philippines' sustained dominance in the arnis competition of the 30th Southeast Asian Games Tuesday here in Pampanga.

Crisamuel Delfin and Mary Allin Aldeguer added on to the country's already bountiful haul by bagging twin golds after besting three other competitors with flair in the men's and women's non-traditional open weapon exhibition.

The traditional category of the same event was not able to yield the same results, but the silver medals still shone like gold for Mark David Puzon and Ryssa Jezzel Sanchez after finishing behind Vietnam's Duc Tri Do and Myanmar's Eilan Dray Phoo, respectively.

The Philippines ended a successful arnis campaign with a total of 14 golds, four silvers and two bronzes -- so far the largest single-sport medal haul by the country in the regional meet.

"We couldn't have asked for any more from the boys and girls. They exceeded our expectations. I told them we'll be happy with 12 golds but they gave us 14. I'm just happy. This is for the country," Philippine Eskrima Arnis Kali Federation chairman and president Juan Miguel Zubiri said in an emotional interview.

"They had so much sacrifices for the nation. Please give them all honor. All our boys and girls, they fought well for us. Mabuhay po ang Arnis, mabuhay po ang Pilipinas!"

The strong finish by the Filipinos comes a day after prolific outings by Filipinos in the padded stick category, where the women's team swept with four golds courtesy of Sheena Del Monte (bantamweight division), Jedah Mae Soriano (featherweight), Ross Monville (lightweight) and Abegail Abad (welterweight). The men's squad also took home three golds from Jesfer Huquire (bantamweight), Elmer Manlapas (featherweight) and Carloyd Tejada (welterweight), along with a silver from Billy Valenzuela (lightweight).

First day medals came courtesy of Jezebel Morcillo (gold, women's distaff), long-stick gold titlists Dexter Bolambao, Nino Mark Talledo, Villardo Cunamay and Mike Banares, and silver medalists May Busaca, Jude Oliver Rodriguez, and Eza Rai Yalong.