Nualla, Arner leads the strong bounce back of Filipino dancers

Shawn Misha Arner (top) of the Philippines and Nualla Anna Leonila Manalo compete in the dance sport event during the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Hanoi on May 16, 2022.  (Photo by Nhac NGUYEN / AFP)

Shawn Misha Arner (top) of the Philippines and Nualla Anna Leonila Manalo compete in the dance sport event during the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Hanoi on May 16, 2022. (Photo by Nhac NGUYEN / AFP)

Hanoi: The Philippine national anthem was played only once at the start of the dance event at the 31st Southeast Asian Games here.

For a country that dominated the discipline with 10 gold medals in 2019, a single win was not good enough.

Anna Nualla knew that.

“We listen to the national anthems of different countries at the awards ceremony. So I joked with Shawn (Arner, his partner) that on Monday, everyone would get tired of listening to our national anthem.

Apparently, he died seriously.

The country’s dance athletes won four gold medals on Monday night, leading to four podiums that performed the national anthem at the Long Bien Gymnasium on the outskirts of this historic capital city.

“We know we had to deliver because we didn’t win enough on the first day,” said Nualla, who, along with Arner, won gold medals at Tango, Viennese Waltz and Standard.

Mark Gayen and Mary Joy Renegene won the Slow Foxtrot title on the same day, adding Michelangelo Marquez and Stephanie Sabalo’s uncle Joy on Sunday.

The four-pair Philippine team wanted to dominate the country in highly thematic sports and was sent for international training in Europe before assembling at a bubble training camp in Cebu City just weeks before the start of the biennial games.

“It’s a tough training camp [in Cebu City]Nualla, who has traveled to Lithuania with Arner for the past two years, said he had been trained by a Lithuanian coach.

“It was really a different program that we compared to 2019,” Nualla said.

That training was almost verifiable after running worse than in 2019, but the dancers were confident enough that one of Sunday’s gold performances was a perversion.

“[W]We did what we had to do. We were scared but we turned our fears into positives, “said Nualla.

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