By Mark Angelo Manez

Filipino athletes continued their splendid performance after three days of intense competition at the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam Saturday evening.

Triathletes led the charge in the 7 gold medal haul they have collected, with Fernando Casares and Kim Mangrobang successfully defending their titles. In a scintillating show of force, the Filipinos added 8 silver and 12 bronze medals to their collection. After three days, the Philippine had collected a total of 56 medals, including 12 gold, 19 silver and 25 bronze medals. Hosts Vietnam gradually pulled away from the pack, winning 34 gold, 26 silver and the same number of bronze medals. Casares crossed the tape in 1:56:57 seconds to retain the title won two years ago by John Chicano. Teammate Andrew Kim Remolino joined Casares in the podium, nearly 3 minutes behind and duplicating his 2019 finish. Indonesia's Ronald Setiawan secured bronze behind his 2:01:35. Mangrobang, meanwhile, made it three in a row as she finished the race at 2 hours, 13 minutes, 31 seconds. Also joining her in the podium is fellow Raven Alcoseba who clocked in at 2 hours, 18 minutes, 30 seconds, thus completing their multiple podium achievement. Silver went to Inge Prasteyo of Indonesia (2:16:38). In gymnastics, the Philippine women's gymnastics team finally broke through to the top of the podium with a stellar all-around performance, after the triumph of world champion Carlos Yulo's golden performance. The Filipinas, led by US-raised gymnast Aleah Finnegan, scored 184.500 points ahead of Vietnam (183.800) and Singapore (182.550) respectively, securing the gold. Finnegan later added a silver in the individual all-around, finishing in between Indonesia's Rifda Irfanalufthi and Rachel Li of Malaysia. Tokyo Olympian pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena also made his mark as he reset his SEA Games record with a jaw-dropping 5.46 meter vault, effectively defending his title won in Manila two years ago. Hokett delos Santos, meanwhile settled for silver after vaulting 5.00 meters, thus completing another 1-2 finish. Alwi Iskandar of Malaysia took home bronze.