PALEMBANG–Less than a week ago, Iris Ranola was sure her world was about to end.
That queasy feeling has now been replaced by sheer exultation after she handily beat Amanda Rahayu of Indonesia, 5-1, Tuesday to win the 8-ball singles gold in the 26th Southeast Asian Games billiards competition at the OPI Convention Hall here.
“Sobrang masayang-masaya talaga dahil first time akong manalo ng gold,” said the 34-year-old Zamboanga City native following the victory that readily took shape after she raced to leads of 3-0 and 4-1.
It was only after pouncing on Rahayu’s dry break on the sixth rack and running out the table did she break out into a wide smile of triumph, officially drilling into her mind that her search for a SEAG gold is finally over.
“Iba talaga ang feeling na manalo ka dito sa SEA Games,” said Ranola, who started competing in the biennial meet in 2005 and copped bronze medals in 2007 and 2009 – but in 9-ball singles.
Ranola could even make it a golden double since she and Rubilen Amit drew first-round byes in the 9-ball event as both begin their quarterfinals campaigns Wednesday.
The victory does not give Ranola any reason to be complacent.
“Mas mataas ang confidence ko na ngayon, pero kailangan pa ring ingat sa laro kasi bilog ang bola,” she stated.
Her overly cautious attitude stems from a scary experience she went through just a couple of days after arriving here Nov. 8.
Bored and with nothing to do, Ranola decided to go for an early morning jog. While cooling down and making her way back to the hotel she and the rest of the team were staying, she suddenly felt pain on her chest and found it hard to breathe.
“Malayo-layo rin ang naikot ko at mainit noon kaya noong una hindi ko pinansin. Pero pagdating sa hotel talagang hirap na hirap na akong huminga,” she narrated.
Good thing a team member saw her and helped her way back to her room, where she finally fainted.
With the help of doctors called by hotel management and those from the RP medical staff, she was revived and diagnosed with dehydration.
“Akala ko talaga end ko na,” she admitted.
Her latest victory should help her get over the apprehensions. “Kailangan laro ng best para manalo at masayang-masaya ulit ang feeling,” she stated.