Filipino boxers set the standard in SEA Games finals

Clark (Philippines) (AFP) –


Thirteen boxing gold medals were up for grabs at the Southeast Asian Games on Monday, and it was Filipino fighters who set the pace in the early bouts.

The fifth and final day of the boxing programme climaxed with the 30th SEA Games' very own Thrilla in Manila in front of a raucous home crowd.

Carlo Paalam picked up gold in the men's light flyweight, Rogen Ladon won the men's flyweight, Josie Gabuco took the women's light flyweight title and James Palicte punched to light welterweight gold at the PICC Forum.

The biggest ever SEA Games, which was opened by local boxing icon Manny Pacquiao on Saturday November 30, enters its last day of full competition on Tuesday.

This edition is the first time eSports is being represented at a multi-sport competition sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, and the first medals were starting to be awarded at the San Juan Arena in the capital.

Malaysia won the first ever gold with a win in the category of mixed Hearthstone -- a popular online card game -- while Thailand took the mixed title for battle game Arena of Valor.

The Philippines have stormed ahead in the medals table with 121 golds, but there is a three-way battle between Thailand (69), Vietnam (69) and Indonesia (68) for second place.

Seven of the last 11 home 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.

- Swimming finale -

The final evening of swimming at the aquatics centre at the main Games hub in New Clark City will feature Olympic champion Joseph Schooling in the 4 x 100m relay, and the Singaporean will be looking to finish his disappointing competition on a high.

Schooling has vowed to "fix" his physique after winning only one individual gold medal at the Southeast Asian Games, less than eight months before his title defence at Tokyo 2020.

His compatriot Quah Zheng Wen will be bidding for another two golds in the 200m butterfly and the medley relay to add to his golds in the 100m and 200m backstroke, and the 4 x 100m and 4 x 200m freestyle relays.

Christie Chue, also from Singapore is aiming to add to her three golds, swimming in the 100m breaststroke final.

The competition's quickest male swimmers will compete for the 50m freestyle crown and the women's 800m freestyle and 100m butterfly are to be decided.

Over at the brand new 20,000-seater athletics stadium, gold medals will be awarded after finals in the men's javelin, 110m hurdles, 800m and women's 100m hurdles, 800m, high jump and discus, as well as the 4 x 100m relays for both men and women.

- Malaysia protest -

Earlier Malaysia complained to Games organisers after one of its gymnasts was stripped of a gold medal two days after she shared the podium with a teammate who she tied with.

Rhythmic gymnast Izzah Amzan finished level on points in the ribbon event in Manila with Koi Sie Yan on Saturday, and officials eventually decided to award them both golds despite Amzan's routine being judged less difficult following a protest by Malaysia.

However, a day later, Amzan's gold was relegated to silver.

"I don't understand why it was changed," Malaysia's chef de mission Datuk Megat Zulkarnain Omardin told AFP by phone, adding that SEA Games rules say both gymnasts should get gold in such circumstances.

"We have submitted our protest," he said. "We are still waiting for the reply."