Nationals rule but fail to impress
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—Members of the national team grabbed the bulk of the Philippine National Games gold medals yesterday, as expected, but failed to impress competition officials here.
Veteran athletes led by former Asian champion Marestella Torres and Mary Grace delos Santos left the rest of the field biting the dust to rule the women’s long jump and 10,000-meter run, respectively, at Narciso Reyes Sports and Civic Center.
But Torres’ winning mark of 6.13 meters was a long way off her own national record of 6.71m.
The two-time Olympian even fouled twice, disappointing track and field officials who, like their counterparts in other sports, attended the games to gauge the performances of their athletes against qualifiers from the provinces.
Delos Santos lapped the other runners in her early-morning event and finished in 39 minutes and 40 seconds, more than 5 minutes slower than the national record of 34.40.2 set by Christabel Martes in 2001.
In chess, virtual unknowns shamed veteran internationalist Grandmasters Eugene Torre and Rogelio “Joey” Antonio.
Fide Master Narquinden Reyes of Mandaluyong pulled off a stunner in men’s random chess, a variant of the sport. He upstaged six GMs for the gold including Antonio Jr. and Richard Bitoon, who placed second and third, respectively.
But Torre and Antonio are expected to redeem themselves at the start of the standard, rapid and blitz play today.
Other national pool members made their presence felt, though, with International Master Joel Pimentel winning the men’s Asean chess, another variant of the sport. Woman IM Catherine Secopito ruled the women’s event and Janelle Mae Frayna topped the random play.
National athletics secretary general Renato Unso showed his disappointment over the 35-year-old Torres’ performance but said they will give her a chance to improve her form by sending her abroad so she could qualify for the Olympics.
“I didn’t have anybody to pace me,” said Delos Santos, who is actually a marathoner but was fielded in the 10,000 instead.
“Our national athletes have to be on their toes at all times,” said Commissioner Jolly Gomez, who said the Philippine Sports Commission will recommend athletes for inclusion in the national pool based on their performances here.
National pool member John Albert Mantua topped the men’s shot put with a heave of 14.35m while Baguio’s Cherry Doronilla bagged the gold in the girls’ 10,000m in 42.53.4.
The provincial government, which has been maintaining the sprawling NRSCC, has laid plans to construct an Olympic-standard velodrome, according to Gov. Amado Espino.
Espino said the velodrome would be fitting for a province that produced cycling legends like Jesus Garcia Jr.