BRUNEI -- Elson Jake Rodriguez of Team Mindanao-Philippines bounced back from his bronze medal finish in men's 100-meter backstroke Thursday morning by clinching the men's 50m backstroke gold late afternoon in the swimming competition of the 10th BIMPNT-Eaga Friendship Games that formally opened on Friday morning at the Indoor Stadium in Bandar Seri Begawan.
Rodriguez, who is part of the Davao City-bannered Team Mindanao delegation, clocked a total of 29.37 seconds to outclass teammate Ivo Nikolai Enot (30.33) and Nicholas Wecker (30.40) of Northern Territory who settled for the silver and bronze, respectively, at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex.
The 20-year-old Rodriguez, a fourth year Physical Education Major in Sports and Wellness Management student at the San Beda University, said he felt more confident in his second swim than in his first event.
"Nag-expect nako nga mag-gold. Wala nako nakulbaan. Sa second heat nako sabay mga kusog. Tong sa unang event kay sa first heat ko nabutang, nadismaya ko pero win or lose tanggap man nako kay part of the game man pud na (I expected to win the gold. I was not nervous anymore. I was in the second heat with the rest of the strong swimmers. In my first event I was in the first heat and I was dismayed but win or lose I accept that it's part of the game)," he said in an interview with SunStar Davao on Friday at the sidelines of the delegation's breakfast at the Wafa Hotel and Apartment.
With his feat, the Mindanao swimming team improved to a medal haul of three golds, six silvers and two bronzes.
His brother Fritz Jun Rodriguez and Joshua Raphael del Rio earlier pocketed the golds in men's 50m breastroke and 200m freestyle, respectively.
The Rodriguez brothers along with Juan Antonio Mendoza and Kierl Suazo annexed the men's 4X50m freestyle relay silver.
The latter also bagged a silver in men's 50m freestyle while Eirron Seth Vibar snatched his second silver in men's 200m breastroke.
Elson Jake eyes to win one or two more golds as the swimfest wraps up today.
Over at the Indoor Stadium, the 10th edition of the biennial Games opened with a simple ceremony graced by Brunei Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan who declared the opening of the Games and exchanged tokens with officials of different delegations.
Datin Paduka Dr. Hajah Norlila binti Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Jalil, chairman of the 10th BIMPNT-Eaga Friendship Games organizing committee, in her message, urged participants to exhibit the most outstanding quality of the friendship games.
"Do your best and contend in the spirit of true sportsmanship and fair play. And open the door for networking with each other," she said, adding that sports teaches one to acknowledge defeat, honor triumph and overcome challenges.
BIMPNT-Eaga Sports Council chairman Datok Jufri Rahman, for his part, said the Games aims to increase friendship between participating nations.
He said, "We are here for a good cause, to strengthen cooperation. Through this, we hope the legacy of brotherhoods between these nations will continue in the next generation."
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Charles Raymond A. Maxey joined other countries' heads of delegations at the presidential stage.
Mindanao and Palawan delegates represented Team Philippines during the parade, donning the PSC-sponsored blue track suit and cap and waving flaglets as they passed.
Games were set to resume at 3 p.m. Saturday, December 8.