Filipina swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi has stood on the Southeast Asian Games podium 20 times already, but she wants more as she is still looking for the elusive gold in the regional competition.
Alkhaldi ended her sixth SEA Games this week with eight medals, two of which are silver and six bronze, to raise her overall personal medal collection to 20. But she isn't satisfied.
"Obviously not. I want the gold, but I kinda need to look at it in different point of view. I really tried and I'm still trying to get that gold medal," Alkhaldi told ABS-CBN News Monday, the last day of the swimming competitions at New Clark City's Aquatics Center here.
Two-time Olympian Alkhaldi joined the women's squad, which took home the silver in the 4 x 100-meter freestyle and medley relay.
She also took the bronze in the 50 butterfly, 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 100 butterfly and the 4 x 200 freestyle relay.
"This is the best (SEA Games) so far. I think it's already been the best because it's here in the Philippines. I surprised myself," Alkhaldi said.
Alkhaldi said she is proud to join a team that includes foreign-based Filipino swimmers, and she's proof that local swimmers such as she can be world class.
"I'm proud na I'm a homegrown talent. For me, to be able to still be here and produce medals as a proud homegrown athlete, I just want to show na kaya nating Pilipino talaga to do it here in our home, to train here," said Alkhaldi, who first learned swimming in the Philippines.
Despite competing in the SEA Games since 2009, Alkhaldi said she still feels some nerves in competition.
"May isang night few days ago 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. na ako nakatulog. Di talaga ako makatulog. Usually 'pag kinakabahan ako, I pray. I really do. It's been helping me. Sometimes I try to read, watch stuff but that doesn't work sometimes," the 26-year-old said.
With her vast experience in international competition, Alkhaldi is assuming the eldest sister's role on the squad.
"Hindi mo talaga ma-avoid ang kaba. Being new is the best thing you could be kasi walang expectations and minsan ka lang maging rookie. So you just go out there and give your best shot kasi whatever you do, it's your first time," she said.
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