PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—Jiu jitsu fighter Jenna Kaila Napolis set the tone for the Philippines’ gold medal drive at the 32nd Southeast Asian Games Thursday, May 4, after delivering the country’s first gold medal at the Chroy Changvar Convention Center here.


Jenna Kaila Napolis answers questions from the media after winning in the finals. (Kristel Satumbaga)


The 25-year-old swept all her four assignments to reign supreme in the women’s ne-waza Gi 52kg including a crucial 2-0 victory against hometown bet Jessa Khan in the final match.

Khan settled for the silver while Vietnam’s Thu Huyen Dang claimed the bronze.

Napolis mustered all her might to score the crucial point in the dying seconds to defeat a familiar foe in Chan, a 2018 Asian Games gold medalist in the 49kg, before an animated crowd.

“Parang feeling ko talo na ako kaya tinry ko talaga ‘yung best ko na makalamang kahit two points,” said Napolis.

It was also a revenge of sorts for Napolis, who lost the gold medal to Khan in the 49kg at the 2019 edition of the meet held in Manila.

Her weight class was scrapped in the 31st edition of the meet held in Vietnam last year.

“Sobrang saya ko na nabawian ko na siya. Akala ko kasi hindi na ako makakabawi,” said Napolis.

Napolis opened up her campaign with a 50-0 win over Singapore’s May Yong The, then went on to thump Thailand’s Nuchanat Singchalad, 3-0; and Dang, 50-0.

Richard Bachmann had the privilege of awarding the country its first gold medalist in his first official major international function as chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

“It is such a thrill to start counting medals and see how the hard work our athletes are translating into these victories,” said Bachmann.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino also congratulated Napolis’ victory.

“One big congratulations for one of our female athletes breaking the ice for Team Philippines,” Tolentino said.

Meanwhile, the men’s duo of Karl and Harvey Navarro lost their matches 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.

The Navarros, however, went home with the bronze medal along with Vietnam.

Dianne Ruado Bargo and Isabela Dominique Montaña also went home with the bronze medal in the women’s show after scoring 40.000 behind eventual gold medalist Kunsatri Kumsroi and Suphawadee Kaeosrasaen of Thailand (48.000) and Cambodia’s Heng Seavheang and Tin Sovanlina (42.500).