MANILA – Carlo Paalam did not get the grand farewell he wanted at the Tokyo Olympics as he came up short of taking the men's flyweight boxing gold after bowing to Great Britain's Galal Yafai in the championship bout at the Kokugikan Arena in the Japanese capital on Saturday.
A first-round knockdown seemingly decided the match as the British fighter, the younger brother of former WBA super flyweight champion Kal Yafai, got the better of Paalam despite the latter performing better in the last two rounds.
Both boxers went at it in the first round with Paalam doing a great job offensively.
However, a left straight from Yafai sent Paalam down for the eight-count and eventually got all the Round 1 votes from the five judges.
Paalam somehow bounced back and delivered better aggression in the second round that earned the nod from Peruvian judge Miguel Anco.
However, the other four judges, Anar Babanli, Makfouni Abdellatif, Mansur Muhiddinov, and Carl Ruhen, gave Round 2 to Yafai for connecting the more accurate shots.
Fully aware that he is in the lead, Yafai decided to milk the clock bank on his ring generalship in the final three minutes.
It almost backfired when Paalam connected on a solid blow that nearly buckled Yafai, but it was not enough as Yafai took the 4-1 split decision win even if all the five judges gave Round 3 to Paalam.
With Paalam settling for the silver plus the fact that golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan missed out on the women's golf podium, the Philippine team finished its Tokyo Olympics campaign with one gold, courtesy of women's weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, two silvers from Paalam and fellow boxer Nesthy Petecio, and one bronze from highly touted pugilist Eumir Marcial.
This is so far the best performance by a Philippine team in terms of medals won in its 97-year participation in the Olympic Games.
Saso finishes strong
Although she still fell short of the Top 3, Saso showed why she is the reigning US Women's Open champion by delivering a gallant fight in the final round of play at the Kasumigiseki Country Club.
Saso ended her stint in the Tokyo Olympics with a six-under-par 65 on Saturday for a total of 10-under-par 274, joining a four-way tie for ninth place.
However, Japan's Mone Inami and New Zealand's Lydia Ko also got a minus-6 on Saturday to join eventual champion, Nelly Korda, at the podium.
Korda's two-under-par 69 turned out to be just enough for her to take the gold despite a double bogey at the Par 3 Hole 7 that set up a wild finish between the three golfers and India's Aditi Ashok.
Inami and Ko's hot Round 4 stints were enough to overtake Ashok, who only had a three-under-par 68 in the final phase, and deny her a medal.
However, with both Inami and Ko finishing at 16-under-par 268 in total, a playoff had to take place, and Inami, who made a par in the sudden death, took the silver, prompting Ko, who bogeyed her playoff hole, to settle for the bronze.
Pagdanganan, meanwhile, had a huge downfall in the final round, going three-over-par 74 and finishing at one-over-par 285, falling to a tie for 43rd place. (PNA)