SYDNEY Sy Tancontian of Davao City returns to the Philippines on Saturday, May 14, 2022 with a heart content and happy after clinching a silver medal for Team Philippines in the women's kurash +87 kg division of the ongoing 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The 22-year-old Tancontian, who salvaged a bronze in the 30th Philippines SEA Games in 2019, bowed to Myanmar's 37-year-old Olympian veteran Aye Aye Ayng, who captured the gold as a fitting retirement honor.

"Happy po ako, Tita, alam ko kaya ko pa pong mag-improve, kaya ko pang i-better ang performance ko (I'm happy knowing that I can still improve and I can still better my performance)," she said in a Messenger interview.

Both athletes first encountered each other in the judo competition of the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the Dabawenya, who was only 17 then, suffered her biennial Games debut loss.

Tancontian said her opponent did not use any special techniques since the last time they played against each other, but she admitted her fault during their championship match.

She said, "May kulang akong hindi ginawa kasi yun nga, physically, mas stronger sya kaya nahirapan din akong umatak. Naunahan akong mag score. Yung tamang strategy nagawa ko after na nyang maka-score sa akin. Hindi ko ma-figure out paano nya naipasok yung attack (I could have done something although she's stronger than I am physically that's why I had difficulty attacking her. She scored first. I recovered with the right strategy after she first scored. I earlier can't figure out how she penetrated the attack)."

Tancontian said she had a brief chat with Aung during the awarding ceremony, and that's when she knew that the newly-crowned champion is retiring after the Hanoi SEA Games.

Meanwhile, she earlier defeated a huge Malaysian bet in the last three seconds of their preliminary match.

The women's kurash +78 kg event had a total of seven entries.

Tancontian will now focus on her studies when she returns. She is a junior Sports Management student of the University of Santo Tomas, where she is also a judo varsity scholar.

"For now siguro, balik focus napo ako sa studies ko. Nasa third year napo ako, sayang naman kung mapabayaan. Thankful ako supportive ang school sa campaign ko for this Games. Nagpapasalamat din ako sa kurash team for trusting me to represent the Philippines, nabigyan nila akong ng chance mag-compete sa isa pa pong SEA Games. Sa coaches and teammates ko, thankful po ako sa ginawa po nila kahit nakakapagod (For now, will focus on my studies. I'm now on my third year, it would be a pity to neglect it. I'm thankful that the school is supportive of my campaign for this Games. I also thank the kurash team for trusting me to represent the Philippines, they gave me a chance to compete in the SEA Games. To my coaches and teammates, I am thankful for what they are doing even if it is tiring)," she added.

She had to put ice on her bruised and aching knee after her gold medal match, but the joy and fulfillment she felt far outweigh the pain she had to endure and the rigors of her training preparations. She had been training since October 2021. She went to Paris and Singapore for training and then spent three weeks with the rest of the kurash national team at the PhilSports Complex in Pasig City before flying to Vietnam for the biennial meet.