THE Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) is looking forward to a gold rush in the Kuala Lumpur 29th Southeast Asian Games as it cited the improvement its wards has achieved since last summer.
“Six national records have been broken since April, and I think the athletes are really motivated to do their best in the SEA Games,” Patafa President Philip Ella Juico said.
In the Thailand Open last month Aries Toledo and Patrick Unso booked impressive numbers in their respective pet events. Toledo rewrote the decathlon record of Jesson Ramil Cid by tallying 7,127 points, a big leap from the 7,069 Cid recorded in his gold-medal performance in the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games.
Unso, on the other hand, eclipsed his own record in the 110-meter hurdles with 13.91 seconds.
Since April, Trenten Beram (200m), Mark Harry Diones (men’s triple jump), Kyla Richardson (400m) and Marisa Kwiatkowski (women’s triple jump) all broke national records.
Rio Olympian Eric Cray did not break his two national records, but won the gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles in the Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar, India, early this month.
“We are really pouring out our support for the athletes. We send them to tournaments abroad for exposure, as we hope that they can bag medals in Malaysia,” Juico added.
Patafa wants to surpass its five-gold, seven-silver and nine-bronze tally in Singapore two years ago.
Patafa Secretary-General Reynato Unso said Diones, Cray and pole vaulter EJ Obiena are sure bets for the gold medals in Malaysia.
SWIMMERS WIN GOLD
SWIMMER Maurice Sacho Ilustre, a 2017 Palarong Pambansa record holder, clocked 52.23 seconds to rule the boys’ 100-meter freestyle over Mikkel Jun Jie Lee (52.44) and Samuel Shaojun (53.07), both from host Singapore, in the Ninth Asean Schools Games last Saturday at the Singapore School Sports pool.
It was the Philippines’s second gold medal for the day after long jumper Karl Arvyn Aquino won the first gold in the morning at the Bishan Stadium.
Ilustre, a De La Salle Zobel standout who swept all of his seven events in the 60th Palaro at San Jose de Buenavista in Antique last summer, also clinched a silver medal in the boys’ 400-meter freestyle.
Some 10 minutes later, Filipino-British swimmer Bhay Maitland Newberry struck for the third gold for the Philippines by topping the girls 200-meter breaststroke.
Newberry cloked 2:20.88 to beat Permatahani Azzahra of Indonesia (2:23.31). Newberry’s teammmate, Raven Faith Alcoseba (2:26.41), salvaged the bronze medal.
Philippine Sports Commissioner Charles Raymond Maxey lauded the gallant efforts of the Filipino athletes for having garnered three gold, one silver and two bronze medals on the first day of the competition.
“We are happy with the good start. We hope to sustain this fine showing. Credit goes to the athletes for giving it their best,” Maxey said.