POOLED REPORT FROM PSA
NAY PYI TAW – Jasmine Alkhaldi’s failure to snatch the gold medal in the re-swim of the women’s 100m freestyle of the 27th Southeast Asian Games wasn’t due to an inferior athletic ability or poor performance.
Blame a heavy heart.
“S’yempre masakit,” said Alkhaldi, the comely 20-year-old swimmer who flew all the way from Hawaii and endured a five-hour bus ride from Yangon to here, only to be stripped of the gold medal late Thursday at the Wunna Theikdi swimming pool here.
Alkhaldi was supposed to be the fourth Filipino to win the gold medal when she clocked a commanding 56.65 seconds in the 100m freestyle.
But in a strange twist of fate, technical officials recalled the result of her game, claiming it should have been ruled as a false start after a Thai swimmer stopped racing upon hearing the second horn. A re-swim was scheduled Friday.
Her coach, Pinky Brosas, accepted the decision, but Philippine Swimming, Inc president Mark Joseph and chief of mission Jeff Tamayo raised a howl, elevating the matter before the SEA Games Sports and Rules Committee headed by U Naw Taung.
The powerful committee has yet to act on the Philippines’ complaint as of press time. But it already set a meeting Sunday morning, presumably with the issue as among, not topmost, in the agenda.
Alkhaldi competed in the re-swim, finishing behind Nathanan Junkrajang of Thailand – the girl who was the subject of the Thais’ protest — and Tien Wen Quah of Singapore for the bronze medal.
“Some things are just worth better than gold. I did my best and I’m pretty sure that I left my mark,” she said on her Facebook account after refusing to grant further interview.
“I believe everything happens for a reason, and I’m so thankful and blessed to be able to get my first SEA Games gold medal, though there were a lot of challenges that came my way.”
“The Filipino spirit does not give up.”
True enough, what she won was a bronze that gleams like gold.