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Explosive start by Western Visayas track athletes

/ 12:30 AM May 04, 2015

DAVAO DEL NORTE—Western Visayas captured the first three gold medals in athletics as the 2015 Palarong Pambansa went into full throttle here Sunday at Davao del Norte Sports and Tourism Complex.

But the action ground to a halt by midday as thousands of delegates gathered in front of big screens set up around the sports complex to watch the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. super fight live from Las Vegas.

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The throng of student-athletes, coaches, teachers and policemen cheered lustily for the Filipino champion but ended up disappointed after the American pound-for-pound king scored a unanimous decision triumph.

The opening ceremonies are scheduled today after it was postponed yesterday to pave the way for Pacquiao’s fight.

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Just after sunrise, Jose Jerry Belibestre retained the elementary boys’ long jump gold with a leap of 7.15 meters to lead the early splurge by the WV tracksters. Central Luzon’s Martin James Esteban (6.96m) was second, and WV’s Cesar Fernandez (6.75m) placed third.

John Christian Capasao prevailed in the secondary boys’ discus throw with a heave of 40.60 meters and Matt Atanas pulled off a WV sweep of the event by prevailing in the elementary boys’ division in 10.70m.

“I didn’t get to watch the fight because I went back to the billeting area,” said Belibestre. “But I’m still very proud of Manny. Win or lose, he’s our hero.”

Belisbestre is set to represent the Philippines in the Asian youth competition in Qatar late this month.

Capasao, 16, dedicated the victory to his late father Frederick, a policeman who died in the line of duty in 2007. The youngest of two children won the title right in his first Palaro stint.

His mother, call center agent Marisol, said sports has become the young Capasao’s therapy after losing his father, who was very close to him. He was also into baseball and javelin throw.

Capasao, who is from Iloilo National High School-Special Program in Sports, bested National Capital Region’s John Edric Manalang (38.77), and Calabarzon’s Gideon Arellano (38.42).

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Matt Atana prevailed over Cagayan Valley’s Lord Hanz Floyd Saiga, who posted 10.41m, and Calabarzon’s Jerick Mendoza (10.29m).

WV’s strong start in track and field was largely expected, having dominated the sport in the past.

Powerhouse NCR is expected to start making its presence felt as more sports get going, including archery, badminton, basketball, gymnastics, law tennis, football and volleyball.

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TAGS: 2015 Palarong Pambansa, Sports
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