MANILA—Marela Vania Salamat pulled off some surprises when she ruled the 30-km women’s individual time trial in cycling in the 28th Southeast Asian Games at the flat course of Marina Bay Area in Singapore.
The young 21-year-old former bowler, who shifted to cycling, timed 44 minutes and 46.38 seconds to win the race by almost a kilometer ahead over 2011 champion Chanpeng Nontasin of Thailand, who, while Singapore’s Chan Siew Kheng, the 2013 Myanmar Games winner, settled for the bronze in 2:58.53.
“All my sacrifices has paid off, ” said the University of the East dentistry sophomore student Salamat, who was lured to cycling by national coach Cesar Lobramonte one morning in 2013 when she was biking as part of her cross training at the Mall of Asia grounds with her bowling coaches Edward Coo and Orlyn Batistin.
“Kasama na rin ang pagtitiwala sa sarili at sa extensive training namin sa Pilipinas,” said Salamat, the eldest of the brood of Rodolfo and Marivic Salamat.
“She’s a very strong rider and if given the proper attention, she could go a long, long way,” national team head coach Allison said, who along with national teammate Avegail Rombaon, had to race against the men back home to hone for these games. Salamat’s gold was only the second for the Philippines in cycling in the Sea Games since Marites Bitbit topped the massed start race in the 2007 Games in Thailand.
Mark John Lexer Galedo failed to retain the men’s time trial gold medal and finished at sixth place in 56:21.59 in the men’s 40-km course. Teammates, Ronald Oranza, missed the podium with 56:00.34, some 21 seconds behind bronze medalist Trinh Duc Tam (55:39.20) of Vietnam. Indonesia’s Robin Manullang won the gold in 53:55.41 and Thailand’s Turakit Boonratanathanakorn bagged the silver in 54:47.57.
The remaining cycling schedules are the criterium races for men (10 am.) and women (9 a.m.) on Friday in the same venue. Galedo and Oranza will be leading the men’s campaign with Jerry Aquino Jr., former Asian junior road race champion Rustom Lim, Jan Paul Morales and George Oconer Jr., son of national coach Bert Oconer. Salamat and Rombaon will race in the women’s division.
Meanwhile, the national women’s volleyball team bounced back by crushing Malaysia in straight sets, 25-15, 25-18, 25-16, on Thursday.
Alyssa Valdez paced the Nationals with 13 points, while Dindin Santiago-Manabat had 8 points and skipper Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daguis chipped in with 7 points each as they remained in contention despite the three-set setback to Indonesia in Group B match on Wednesday.
“The players are more relaxed now and we didn’t even change our strategy,” head coach Roger Gorayeb said. “They were just too excited in their first game.”
Gorayeb also pointed out that his wards were less distracted compared to the first match when they had to contend with Indon ace Aprilia Manganang, whose gender the Philippine delegation had questioned in a formal protest with the Singaporean organizers. Citing a certification of the International Volleyball Federation that upheld Manganang’s gender, the hosts rejected the Philippine protest.
They must now beat a tough Vietnamese squad, the silver medalist in the2013 Myanmar SEA Games, on Saturday to advance into the semifinal round.