The Philippines ended its athletics campaign at the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with a bang as the men’s 4x400m relay team clinched the gold medal after a thrilling finish.
Frederick Ramirez, Umajesty Williams, Joyme Sequita, and Michael Carlo del Prado led the Philippines to victory, beating Thailand by a mere one-hundredth of a second.
The Filipino quartet clocked at 3:07.22, leaving the Thais with the silver medal at 3:07.23. Malaysia claimed the bronze with a time of 3:08.82.
The win was a historic moment for the Philippines as it marked the end of a ten-year gold drought in the event since Isidro del Prado Jr. led the Philippines to victory in 2013 with Edgardo Alejan, Julius Nierra, and Archard Christian Bagsit.
After a string of heartbreaks, including back-to-back bronzes in 2017 and 2019 and no medal last year, the athletics team finally delivered a gold medal in the 4x400m relay event.
Aside from the men’s relay team, three other Filipino athletes delivered gold medals in their respective events. Eric Cray retained his 400m hurdles crown for the sixth consecutive time, while EJ Obiena won the men’s pole vault in record-breaking fashion. Janry Ubas secured the gold medal in the men’s long jump.
The 34-year-old Filipino-American track star Cray now holds the title of the greatest athlete in this event in the region, having broken the SEA Games record with a time of 50.03 seconds. The silver medal went to Thailand’s Natthapon Dansungnoen with a time of 50.73 seconds, while Singapore’s Calvin Quek took the bronze in 50.75 seconds. The Philippines’ other entry, Alhryan Labita, finished seventh with a time of 53.89 seconds.
After his victory, Cray shouted out the name of Michael Jordan, the undisputed GOAT of basketball, holding up six fingers to represent his six gold medals in the 400-m hurdles, just as Jordan won six championship rings in the National Basketball Association.
Cray said winning his sixth SEA Games gold medal meant everything to him, adding that the hard work, dedication, and injuries he underwent all these years were worth it.
The women’s 4x400m relay team also made a run for the gold but had to settle for silver, finishing behind Vietnam. Kyla Richardson, Maureen Schrijvers, and Robyn Brown, along with their teammates, clocked 3:37.75, while Vietnam won with a time of 3:33.05. Thailand took the bronze with a time of 3:39.29.
The Philippine athletics team also earned multiple silver and bronze medals in various events. Umajesty Williams won the silver medal in the men’s 400m event, while Frederick Ramirez took bronze in the same event. In the decathlon, Janry Ubas secured the silver medal with 6,923 points, while Aries Toledo placed third with 6,891 points. Joida Gagnao took home the silver medal in the women’s 3000m steeplechase event, while Sonny Wagdos settled for the silver in the men’s 5000m category.
Overall, the Philippine athletics team won four gold, six silver, and three bronze medals, nearly matching its gold tally of five in Vietnam last year. The team’s performance was a testament to their hard work, dedication, and determination to bring honor to the country. The athletes’ exceptional performance at the 32nd Southeast Asian Games showcased their world-class talent and served as an inspiration to aspiring athletes across the country. The win in the 4x400m relay event, in particular, was a historic moment that will go down in Philippine athletics history.