SUBIC - Filipina rower Melcah Jen Caballero was expecting a podium finish, but a medal looked out of reach as she came out flat.
Cabellero lagged behind at the start of the race, and she didn't know where to get the extra energy to trim the gap.
Fortunately, there was the home crowd.
Hearing her fellow Filipinos cheer for her gave Caballero the boost she needed as she paddled her way to the gold medal of the 30th Southeast Asian Games women's lightweight single scull event of rowing at the Triboa Bay here.
It was as if she wasn't the only one rowing the rest of the way as she breezed through her foes one by one before crossing the finish line.
Caballero, a member of the Philippine Navy, logged 7:50.89. Thailand's Rojjana Raklao (7:54.23) and Indonesian Mutiara Putri (7:56.85) nabbed the solver and bronze, respectively.
"I didn't expect this because my foes are really great. I was trailing at first but when I heard them cheer for me, it gave me the extra energy," she said in Filipino. "I was shocked I was able to zoom past them. I think it was my supporters who gave me the drive to finish the race first."
It was a gold medal for the Philippines, and the second for Caballero (women's double sculls) - a feat that made all her sacrifices worth it.
"It's really a great feeling knowing that all your sacrifices in training paid off," said Caballero.
Meanwhile, Edgar Ilas and Roque Abala captured the bronze in the men's lightweight double sculls event.
Over at the Malawaan Park, the Philippines scored a bronze in the traditional boat race 22-seater 1000-meters mixed. The Philippines, led by Hermie Macaranas, clocked in 1:58.42 to claim the medal behind Indonesia (gold) and Thailand (silver).
"I'm still proud of our performance. We still made the podium twice," said Philippine dragonboat head coach Len Escalante.