Timor Leste will not be going home empty-handed in the 30th SEA Games. Taekwondo pro Amorin Imbrolia Araujo dos Reis finally bagged her country’s first medal of the Games on Sunday, before quickly being joined by her compatriot boxers Jose Barreto Quintas and Frederico Soares Sarmento in the winner’s circle.
Amorin Imbrolia Araujo dos Reis won the bronze for the womens’ -57 kilogram division event of taekwondo, Jose Barreto Quintas de Silva won bronze in the lightweight boxing division and Frederico Soares Sarmento won the nation’s third bronze for the light heavyweight event later that evening.
The journey to their medal was not easy. With just a few days left in the competition, Timor Leste was lacking any claim on the medal tally boards. This medal drought was not missed by fans from the host country, the Philippines – the local twitter sphere quickly filled with Filipino fans cheering on Timor Leste’s athletes to secure a medal in the Games. After all, the #WeWinAsOne slogan of the Games encouraged shared victories, not just competitiveness
Fans following the Games will remember Timor Leste as an earlier trending topic for the 30th SEA Games because of some logistical issues which faced their football team upon their arrival in Manila. Unfortunately, the team had to wait two and a half hours for their bus transportation to arrive at the airport.
The incident triggered apologies from PHISGOC Chairperson Alan Peter Cayetano and even Malacanang. Obviously, the Philippines was not taking its hosting responsibilities lightly.
PHISGOC Chairperson and Speaker of the House Alan Peter Cayetano personally visited the teams affected by the logistical errors to offer his apologies to the players and coaches face-to-face. The sincerity of the gesture was hailed as a sign of good statesmanship. The gesture also refocused the Games back on the attitude of #WeWinAsOne and promoted unity in the region over division. Despite being a competition, the SEA Games are also about regional unity in Southeast Asia.
Fans across the region are not cheering on Timor Leste for their wins. Here in the Philippines, even the staunchest Team PH supporters are ecstatic over seeing Timor Leste’s success in the medal tally.
As the Games approach their closing on December 11, it is safe to say that the spirit of #WeWinAsOne has been truly embodied by the athletes and fans of ASEAN sports.