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THE Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) hailed the Filipino athletes competing at the 11th Asean Para Games in Surakarta, Indonesia, for having performed beyond expectations and have now surpassed the medal harvest of a team that saw action in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur edition.

POC President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said on Friday, “With still a day left in the games, they’ll be returning home proud for having set a new Philippine standard in the Asean Para Games.”

Sander Severino bagged four gold medals in chess—the most by any of the 144 Filipino athletes sent to Surakarta—to lead a 24-gold Philippine haul.

Swimmers Angel Otom and Ariel Alegarbes won three gold medals each while veteran Ernie Gawilan led a list of double gold medalists for Team Philippines which also bagged 23 silver and 43 bronze medals—also surpassing the 20 silvers and 29 bronzes hauled in 2017.

“The para athletes performed so well despite the fact that for more than two years during the pandemic, they didn’t see action in any major international competition,” Tolentino said. “They kept their focus and determination while making themselves physically ready by training well in a bubble environment.”

The Philippines ran fifth in the medals race as of noon on Friday with host Indonesia on its way to retaining the overall title with a 115-83-65 gold-silver-bronze tally, followed by Thailand (61-75-49), Vietnam (53-44-33) and Malaysia (24-13-5).

Team Philippines was poised to keep fifth spot on the board with Cambodia a far sixth with 10 golds, six silvers and nine bronze medals.