Jiu-jitsu’s Kaila Napolis wins Philippines’ first gold medal in SEA Games 2023

Kaila Napolis wins the Philippines' first gold medal in the SEA Games 2023. –JUNE NAVARRO/INQUIRER

Kaila Napolis wins the Philippines’ first gold medal in the SEA Games 2023. –JUNE NAVARRO/INQUIRER

PHNOM PENH—Kaila Napolis struck the first gold medal for Team Philippines on Thursday, beating a highly-favored foe in Jessa Khan in front of a hometown crowd in women’s jiu-jitsu at the 32nd Southeast Asian Games.

Napolis swept Khan and seized a dominant position to earn two points near the end of their Newaza Gi 52kg encounter and redeem herself from a heart-breaker against the same rival back in the 2019 SEA Games in Manila.

“To win against her (Khan) here in Cambodia is overwhelming,” said Napolis, teary eyed after getting back at Khan, who defeated her in Manila in the women’s 49kg gold-medal match.

The 25-year-old Napolis failed to take down the opposition early before patiently working her way in a transition that put Khan in an awkward position to the disappointment of the crowd at the Chroy Changvar Hall here.

Karl and Harvey Navarro added the country’s medal collection in the sport with a bronze in the men’s duo while the pair of Dianne Ruado Bargo and Isabela Dominique Montana likewise wound up third in the women’s show (forms).

The Navarros lost to Thailand’s Nawin Kokaew and Panuawat Deeyatam, 68-63.5; Cambodia’s Kongmona Mithora and Touch Pikada, 66-59; and Vietnam’s Dinh Khai Ma and Ke Duong Trinh, 64-59.

Bargo and Montana scored 40,000 in their event behind gold medalists Kunsatri Kumsroi and Suphawadee Kaeosrasaen of Thailand (48,000) and second-placer Heng Seavheang and Tin Sovanlina of Cambodia (42,500).


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