Laguna athlete nails first Palaro gold

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STA. CRUZ, Laguna—Calabarzon’s Zeanne Faith Cabrera could not have found a more fitting time to finally become Palarong Pambansa champion Sunday.

The 16-year-old lass ruled the girls’ high school javelin throw to capture the competition’s first gold medal right in her province.

Cabrera, who hails from Biñan town, threw the spear 40.31 meters on her fourth attempt to clinch the gold in the gathering dusk at Laguna Sports Complex here.

She beat the event’s favorite, Monica Louise Andaya of National Capital Region (39.36), and Western Visayas’ Jorremay Rubias (38.06) who wound up second and third, respectively.

The centerpiece track and field competitions started ahead of today’s opening ceremony which will feature boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao as one of the guests of honor.

Joining Pacquiao in the inaugural rites are former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Technical Education and Skills Development Administration head Joel Villanueva.

It was Cabrera’s first-ever gold in the event that has become the bailiwick of Western Visayas’ Jerremay Rubias, who won last year in Dumaguete and early this year in the Batang Pinoy finals in Bacolod City.

“She (Rubias always wins), so it feels good that I got the gold this time,” said Cabrera, a senior at St. Michael’s High School in Biñan, in Filipino.

Cabrera said she trained very hard under former national team mainstay Rosie Villarito and didn’t stop her routines even during the Lenten break.

Jose Gerry Belibestre of Western Visayas snared the second gold after he ruled the high school boys’ long jump with a leap of 7.08 meters.

The 15-year-old Belibestre beat Mark James Esteban and Erson Jay Osotezo, both of Central Luzon who made 6.70 and 6.55, respectively.

High school boys’ football also kicked off with defending champion Mimaropa beating Bicol, 1-0, and Central Visayas routing Cagayan Valley, 9-2.

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