By WAYLON GALVEZ
Filipina weightlifter Kristel Macrohon earned a gold medal in her Southeast Asian Games debut after beating Vietnam’s Thi Van Nguyen in a thrilling showdown in the women’s 71kg category in the 30th Southeast Asian Games yesterday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
Macrohon tallied a total lift of 216kg in the combined snatch and clean and jerk events, beating Nguyen, who had 214kg to settle with the silver while Indonesia’s Tsabitha Ramadani had 203kg for the bronze medal.
“Sobrang saya ko kasi hindi ko ini-expect na mananalo ako ng gold medal,” said Macrohon as tears fell while she held the gold medal. “Talagang binigay ko na lahat, sabi ng coaches ko ibigay ko na lahat.”
Macrohon’s achievement improved the national weightlifting team’s medal haul to two gold medals, three silvers and two bronzes in the last day of weightlifting action in the biennial meet.
Hidilyn Diaz, a silver medalist in the Rio Olympics and a gold medal winner in the Asian Games, earned her first SEA Games gold medal in the 55kg category, while the silvers were from Elreen Ann Ando (64kg), Margaret Colonia in (59kg) and John Fabuar Ceniza (55kg).
Mary Rose Diaz (45kg) and Nestor Colonia (67kg) both won bronze medals.
The 23-year-old Macrohon and Ramadani finished tied on top in snatch with identical lifts of 93kg, while Nguyen placed third at 92kg, setting the stage for an exciting clean and jerk.
Ramadani started at 100kg, followed by 105kg and then finished with her third attempt of 110kg, which basically took her out in the fight for the gold – leaving Macrohon and Nguyen in race.
Macrohon began at 116kg, and then followed it at 120kg, before finishing it off at 123kg – her best lift that counted. Nguyen’s first two lifts were at 118kg and 122kg – both good lifts.
With pressure on, Nguyen’s third and last was an attempt at 125kg, a weight that would up her total to 217kg – or a one point win over Macrohon. But she failed to make a lift that gave the Philippines the gold.
That led to wild celebration at the stadium by Macrohon’s teammates, who included Hidilyn Diaz, and coaches, Filipino weightlifting association officials led by its president Monico Puentevella and the crowd.
“Siyempre masaya ako for Kristel, and masaya ako for the entire weightlifting national team. Before isa lang na medal hirap kami manalo,” said Diaz, who was in tears when Ando lost the other day but was in celebration mode as she hugged Macrohon at the stage.
“But now, kita naman na lahat ng sakripisyo at pagod sa training here and abroad, eto yung naging resulta sa national team. Kaya sobrang saya para sa national team, para sa Pilipinas,” said Diaz.