Mom, 44, wins gold; daughter clinches bronze


PHNOM PENH—Cristina Villanueva Vergara won a wrestling gold medal at the 32nd Southeast Asian Games as a 44-year-old athlete.

But that’s not all. She won gold on the same night that her 18-year-old daughter Cathlyn Gee made the podium by claiming bronze in her own weight class of the same sport.

“I never thought I can still do it,” said Villanueva of Taguig City, who just came out of retirement as an athlete a few years ago after calling it quits in the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand.

“I was amazed that I can still do my techniques very well,” said the retired Philippine Navy officer.

She won the women’s freestyle 65 kgs category by outclassing Cambodia’s Sambat Vannak, 12-2.

Vergara, a gold winner in the 2003 Vietnam and 2005 Manila games, made it to the final after beating Sopha Thammahong of Laos by superiority in the semifinals.

Cathlyn Gee showed she could be like mom someday with the bronze medal she clinched in the women’s freestyle 59 kgs event won by Ann Tuyet Tran of Vietnam with Salinee Srisombat of Thailand claiming silver.

“I keep pushing her to train smart and work harder because she has the opportunity to excel,” Vergara said of her daughter, a Nutrition and Dietetics freshman at the University of Santo Tomas. “She can still go to the Olympics because she’s still young.”

Jason Balabal also won a wrestling gold medal in men’s 87 kg of Greco Roman. 

“It’s a great improvement after missing a gold medal in last Vietnam,” Alvin said Aguilar, president of Wrestling Association of the Philippines.

The Philippines got seven silver and five bronze medals last year.

Image credits: Josef Ramos

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