by Kristel Satumbaga
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Desirae Mangaoang delivered the country’s first gold medal at the start of the 43rd Southeast Asian Age Group Swimming Championships yesterday at the Morodok Techo National Sports Complex here.
The 15-year-old Mangaoang, who was born and raised by Filipino parents in North Carolina, clocked 33.20 seconds to dominate the girls 16-18 years old 50-meter breaststroke .
“It feels unreal,” said Mangaoang on her first international stint with the Philippine team. “The race felt so fast, I barely knew what happened. I was a bit nervous at the start because some of the girls were a bit taller than me, but I tried not to get it into me.
Mangaoang’s win boosted her chances of earning a slot in the national team in the SEA Games which the country will host later this year.
Last March, Mangaoang made her desire known after shattering the 15-year-old national women’s record in the 200m breast at the 2019 Indianapolis Speedo Sectionals in Indianapolis, United States.
Also making it to the podium were Rian Marco Tirol, who came in second in the boys 16-18 50m breast, and Athena Chang, who pocketed bronze in the girls 13-under 400m freestyle.
Tirol timed 29.37sec behind eventual gold medalist Pham Thanh Bao of Vietnam, who registered a new meet mark in 29.25sec.
Chang, for her part, posted 4 minutes and 40.88sec behind Vietnamese Dang Ai My (4:32.46) and Le Thu Thuy (4:33.51).