Diaz crashes out; Barriga fights Italian

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11:35 PM July 30th, 2012

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By: Ted S. Melendres, July 30th, 2012 11:35 PM

BRIAN Rosario competes in the skeet event of the shooting competitions on Monday. JUN ENGRACIA/TAKEN WITH CANON E0S 7D

LONDON—Hidilyn Diaz crashed out of women’s weightlifting’s 58-kilogram competition without clearing her opening lift and skeet shooter Brian Rosario struggled in the windy firing line Monday at the 30th London Olympics here.

The two-time Olympian Diaz failed in all her three attempts to clear her opening weight of 118 kg in the clean and jerk and was eliminated from the competition. She lifted 97 kg in the snatch, good for 12th in a field of 18.

Diaz, the country’s flag-bearer in the Opening Ceremonies, thus became the second Filipino athlete to bow out of these Games after Jessie Khing Lacuna, who wound up fifth in his heat in the 200-meter freestyle Sunday.

On a chilly afternoon in London’s high summer, Rosario shot all birds in a perfect third round, earning loud applause from the gallery. But it was too late a charge for the only Southeast Asian in the field as the winds blew and the chill factor ruined his focus in the first two of five rounds in the shotgun event.

The businessman from Malabon shot strings of 22, 19 and 25 for 66 points, eight behind reigning Olympic champion and pacesetter Vincent Hancock of the United States at Royal Artillery Barracks. Rosario lay 32nd in the starting cast of 36.

Hancock, also the world record-holder with 125, showed the way for the second-placed trio of Stefan Nilsson of Sweden, Anders Golding of Denmark and Nasser Al-Attiya of Qatar, who all had a 72.

The last two rounds of the two-day, five-round competition fire off at 9 a.m. Tuesday with Rosario hoping to stay in touch with the middle-ranking pack.

“I told him to take it easy and not think about the next rounds,” said Mikee Romero, the president of the Philippine National Shooting Association (PNSA) who was instrumental in landing the Olympic wild-card berth for Rosario. “The competition is on a different level in the Olympics and the wind and chill factor somehow affected his performance.”

“He’s still jittery, but I’m sure he’ll overcome that in the next two rounds,” said Gay Corral, Rosario’s coach.

Meanwhile, Mark Anthony Barriga tries to slay the ghost of Harry Tañamor’s painful exit from the Olympics four years ago when he battles Italian light flyweight Manuel Cappai in the first round of the boxing competition at ExCeL Arena here.

And archer Rachelle Anne Cabral, buoyant over the knockout system’s exciting format, shoots against Inna Stepanova of Russia for a place in the second round of the women’s Fita 70-meter individual event at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Barriga, the 19-year-old whirlwind of a fighter from Panabo City in Davao, sets out as the slight underdog to the former world championship bronze medalist from Cagliari who also enjoys a six-inch height advantage at 5-foot-6.

The fight, set at 2:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. in Manila), offers Barriga a chance to resuscitate the country’s boxing fortunes in the Olympics which took a shocking nosedive when Tanamor, then ranked No. 2 in the world in the same weight class in 2008, crashed out in the first round against Mangyo Plange of Ghana.

No other Filipino, man or woman, managed to land a berth in these Games and Barriga knows the significance of winning his first bout, or the three wins he needs to land a long-sought after medal.

“Handa na ako (I am ready),” said Barriga, at 5-feet flat the shortest fighter in the lightest of boxing’s 10 divisions but easily the busiest. “I’ve trained for two years for this chance to fight in the Olympics.”

His coach, Roel Velasco, acknowledged the bumpy route to a medal in Barriga’s tough side of the draw, which includes defending Olympic champion Zhou Shiming of China, but said his boy is up to the challenge.

“It’s a tough group but I have confidence in Mark,” said Velasco, a bronze medalist in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, in Filipino. “He worked hard to earn this stint. I know he’ll not disappoint us.”

If Barriga gets past the son of a former Italian featherweight champion, his next assignment will be the rated Birzhan Zhakypov, who is heavily favored to beat Jeremy Beccu of France. Another win will set him up against either Zhou or Cuba’s Yosbany Sotto.

In his workout on Sunday afternon, Barriga shadowboxed, skipped ropes and did some stretching, the same regimen he went through in the morning.

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