Clark, Philippines: Filipina sprinter Kristina Marie Knott defeated Vietnam’s ‘Queen of Speed’ Le Tu Chinh on Saturday to take her Southeast Asian Games 200m track title in the first night of track and field action at the stadium in New Clark City.
Pole vaulter Ernest Obiena added to the Philippines’ medal tally with a Games record jump of 5.45 metres — enough to qualify him for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
The host nation are in complete control of the medal table after a week of competition at the biggest-ever SEA Games, with 85 golds — streets ahead of Indonesia’s 50 and Vietnam’s 43.
Knott also broke a Games record in her heat on Saturday morning with a time of 23.07 seconds and the 24-year-old bettered that in the evening final, striding to victory in 23.01 ahead of Chinh on 23.45.
Chinh, 22, had been aiming to retain all three of the sprint titles she won in 2017 — the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay — over the coming days at the 20,000 capacity stadium at the Games’ main hub.
It was a golden evening for Thailand’s men, with a 10,000m gold for Kieran Tuntivate, a one-two for Chayut Khongprasit and Siripol Punpa in the 200m and a win for Kittipong Boonmawan in the men’s hammer.
At the nearby aquatics centre, Malaysia’s Ooi Tze Liang and Mohd Syafiq Puteh won gold and silver in the men’s 3m springboard individual final, and Ng Yan Yee and Nur Dhabitah Sabri sealed a diving clean sweep for the nation with a win in the women’s synchronised 3 metre springboard.
In a successful night for Singapore in the pool, Quah Ting Wen won the women’s 50m butterfly, Darren Chua took the men’s 200m freestyle title and the women’s 4 x 100m relay cruised to gold in the freestyle relay.
Elsewhere, one of the region’s only gold medallists at Rio 2016 — Vietnamese pistol shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh — had to settle for silver, losing out to Thailand’s Kulchairattana Pongpol in the 10m air pistol contest in Subic.
About 8,750 athletes and officials are taking part in the regional Olympics spread across dozens of venues in the northern Philippines, which was hit by a deadly typhoon earlier this week.