PH bets head to exits earlyBy Ted S. Melendres
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LONDON—The rate it is going, a third Filipino in the country’s tiny 11-athlete delegation will become a tourist at the 30th London Olympics here Tuesday.
With swimmer Jessie Khing Lacuna and lifter Hidilyn Diaz already out of the Games following dismal performances Sunday and Monday, skeet shooter Brian Rosario was teetering on the brink with just two more rounds left in his event.
Two more Filipinos—boxer Mark Anthony Barriga and archer Rachelle Anne Cabral—were trying to avoid elimination at press time Tuesday.
Barriga was fighting Italy’s Manuel Cappai in the first round of the light flyweight class ExCel 3 Arena while Cabral battled Russia’s Anna Stepanova in one of the round-of-64 knockout matches in the women’s 70-meter individual competition at Lord’s Cricket Ground.
A win for Barriga, the country’s only hope in boxing, will set him up against the rated Birzhan Zhakonov, who is heavily favored to beat Jeremy Beccu of France.
Cappai, a son of a former Italian featherweight champion who is 19 like Barriga, enjoys a six-inch height advantage and fights like the Filipino’s famous tormentor, defending Olympic champion Zhou Shiming of China.
Not even perfect scores of 25 birds each to cap Rosario’s five-round effort in the skeet competition could land him a berth in the medal-round cast of eight at the Royal Artillery Barracks firing range here.
Rosario, a first-time Olympian and beneficiary of an international shooting federation wild-card berth, lay 32nd in a field of 36 after the first three rounds of the shotgun event where he strung up scores of 22, 19 and 25.
The 31-year-old businessman from Malabon came undone after three consecutive misses in the middle of the second round, his firing reflexes admittedly slowed by the chilly wind at the exposed firing line.
“I am terribly disappointed to shoot that 19,” coach Gay Corral quoted the 5-foot-10 Rosario as saying. “Hindi naging smooth ang movement ko sa mid-second round, parang nanigas. (My movement became a bit stiff in the middle of the second round.”
Still, Philippine National Shooting Association president Mikee Romero thought Rosario showed resilience under pressure by scoring what he said was the first perfect 25 string by a Filipino in the Olympics.
Romero watched the event from the stands along with Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., POC chair Monico Puentevella, chief of mission Manny Lopez and POC secretary general Steve Hontiveros.
Defending champion Vincent Hancock of the United States led the competition with 74 birds built around 25s in the first and third strings.
At ExCeL Arena in Olympic Park at Stratford Monday, a devastated Diaz became the second Filipino casualty at these Games after blowing all her three attempts to clear her starting lift of 118 kilograms in women’s weightlifting’s 58-kilogram class.
“Mahirap isipin na hindi ko na-clear yun dahil kinakaya ko ang 123 kilos sa training (It’s hard to accept that I failed at that weight because I could lift 123 kg during training),” said a tearful Diaz, who trained here ahead of the Olympics courtesy of the British government.
She consoled herself with a personal-best 97 kg in the snatch where she ranked 13th in a field of 19.
Corral said it was the first time Rosario shot a 19 since arriving here more than three weeks ago to train alongside his Olympic rivals.
“We trained under the same conditions during the camp,” said Corral. “He was a bit stiff in that round.”
And Diaz was inconsolable after returning to her room in the Athletes Village. She did not come out until three hours later.
“Sa training camp kayang-kaya ko po yung 118 (I could easily lift 118 in the training camp).”