Saturday, 19 December 2009

RP athletes slay ghost of Thailand debacle

Mamiit caps 38-gold haul in Vientiane
By Roy Luarca
Philippine Daily Inquirer

VIENTIANE, Laos — Ceciil Mamiit gave Team Philippines' campaign in the 25th Southeast Asian Games a familiar and fitting ending Friday.

Just like in the 2007 Thailand edition, the California-based Mamiit copped the last gold medal staked—the men’s tennis singles.

There’s a slight twist, though. Mamiit’s final opponent wasn’t Thai ace Danai Udomchoke but compatriot Treat Huey, who yielded a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 decision, capping the Filipinos’ roller-coaster ride to fifth-place overall, a notch better than their worst-ever sixth place finish in Nakhon Ratchasima.

In achieving their modest target, the Filipinos amassed a total of 38 gold, 35 silver and 51 bronze medals in 21 of 25 events the Filipinos took part in in the 10-day event held in this laid-back, landlocked country which hosted the biennial Games for the first time.

Thailand retained overall supremacy with a haul of 86-83-97, with Vietnam settling for second with 83-75-57. Indonesia placed third (43-53-74) followed by Malaysia (40-40-59).

The tracksters turned out to be the best performers with seven gold medals, spiked by the meet-record efforts of hammer thrower Arniel Ferrera and long jumper Marestella Torres.

Also basking in the limelight were the boxers who atoned for their embarrassing one gold output in Thailand with five this time, three coming from female fighters Annie Albania (flyweight), Alice Kate Apari (lightweight) and Josie Gabuco (pinweight).

Again powered by double-gold medalist Miguel Molina, the 2007 Most Outstanding Athlete who won four golds then, the swimmers contributed four victories, spiced up by SEA Games record-breaking performances by US-based Daniel Coakley and Ryan Arabejo.

The taekwondo jins also chipped in four golds, courtesy of the comely women’s poomsae team of Janie Lagman, Rani Ann Ortega and Camille Alarilla, Olympians Mary Antoinette Rivero and Tshomlee Go and Alexander Briones.

Wrestlers big surprise

It was the wrestlers, however, who provided the big surprise with three golds, through brothers Margarito and Jimmy Angana and Jason Balabal.

The touted billiards players had to settle for three golds, courtesy of double-gold winner Rubilen Amit and Ronnie Alcano, following the stunning first round exit of world doubles champions Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante and the third-place finish of former world No. 1 Dennis Orcollo.

With Mamiit and Huey at the helm, tennis chipped in two, so did wushu and judo, with John Baylon clinching his ninth straight SEA Games crown.

The female golfers also struck with Chihiro Ikeda copping the individual plum and powering the team to the title.

Nathaniel “Tac” Padilla averted a medal shutout for shooting in his pet 25m rapid fire pistol by winning the gold. Completing the champions’ list were muay fighter Zaidi Laruan, karateka Marna Pabillore and archer Jennifer Chan.

Contributing at least a bronze each were diving, weightlifting, pencak silat, water polo, sepak takraw, table tennis and petanque.

Deprived of any medal were beach volleyball and badminton.

The gold hoard could have been bigger.

But ugly incidents, nasty fallout of the raging dispute between the country’s top sports officials, seemingly affected the morale of the athletes, who were flown in via separate batches, depending on “affiliation.”

The 251-strong RP athletes arrived here in two chartered planes, with the first batch composed of those who were funded by the Philippine Sports Commission. The second group was made up those who did not meet the criteria set by the government sports agency but were sent here, nevertheless, by the Philippine Olympic Committee.

Quarreling officials

The ill-effects of quarreling officials was felt most in cycling, where Maritess Bitbit, who was a cinch for at least two gold medals here, was ordered to pull out of the competition by the POC officials.

The Olympic body was said to have forced Amit to show her support to her 11 teammates who did not get the green light to compete because they did not have UCI licenses.

“Overall, it was a great experience for everyone who competed in Laos,” said PSC chair Harry Angping, who predicted the Filipinos would haul in 32 golds, half of the POC’s promise.

“In retrospect, I am overwhelmed by the accomplishments of our athletes,” he added. “They performed beyond expectations. They showed that the Filipino won’t back down in any fight.”

There were others who tried to give the country’s last-day drive in the Games, which drew over 4,000 athletes from 11 nations, a final push, but came up short.

Mamiit and Huey were beaten by the Thai twins Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana, 2-6, 7-5, 8-10, for the men’s doubles gold.

Metodio Suico Jr. and Aleta Junmar lost to the Vietnamese pair, 17-21, 17-21, and settled for the bronze in sepak takraw.

Padilla landed 10th in the 25m center fire with 555 points. Worse off were teammates Ronald Hejastro (540) and Robert Donalvo (536) as the squad wound up fourth with a 1631 total.

Host Laos showed a dramatic improvement with a 33-25-52 tally to finish behind sixth-placed Singapore (33-30-35).

The 2011 SEA Games will be held in Indonesia with Bandung and Semarang serving as main hosts. The other venues are Jakarta and Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra.

Meanwhile, a chartered plane carrying some of the athletes, left here Friday and arrived on the same day in Manila at 7 p.m.


Angping happy to be ‘wrong

Manila Bulletin

VIENTIANE, Laos — Swimmer Miguel Molina stands to receive P750,000 cash reward from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for bagging two gold medals and a silver in the just-ended 25th Southeast Asian Games.

Molina heads more than 100 medalists who will receive cash rewards amounting to over P17 million, according to PSC chairman Harry Angping who closely monitored the Games at home.

In a text message Thursday, Angping congratulated the athletes for a job well done.

"I congratulate them for proving me wrong on my projections. The resiliency and fighting spirit of the Filipino athletes have been shown once again," said Angping.

Before the RP delegation left for this Laotian capital, Angping predicted a 20-gold medal performance, but a strong showing in athletics, boxing and taekwondo helped propel the team to 38 gold medals, nearly double the PSC projection.

Molina, who swept the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medley events and placed second in the 200-meter freestyle, will receive P250,000 as provided by law and additional P500,000 from the PSC.

Republic Act 9064 provides a cash incentive of P100,000 for gold, P50,000 for silver and P10,000 for bronze medalists in the SEA Games.

But prior to the Games, Angping announced additional incentives of P200,000 for gold, P100,000 for each SEA Games record broken and P50,000 for each Philippine mark set.

Aside from P650,000 for winning three medals, Molina will receive P100,000 for breaking the Games record in the 200-meter individual medley.

Rubilen Amit, who won the 9-ball and 8-ball pool singles titles, will receive P600,000 while golfer Chihiro Ikeda will get P400,000, P300,000 for winning the women’s individual golf and P100,000 for sharing the team gold.

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