Too close to call-A A +A
Saturday, October 20, 2012
MARIKINA—“It is rough. But we never know; we still have a fighting chance,” said Visayas head Ricky Ballesteros while trying to tally on a piece of table napkin the possible points for Team Visayas and what the outcome will be as the last day of competition draws today.
The National Capital Region (NCR) is serious in its bid to overthrow three-time champion Visayas in the Milo Little Olympics national finals, but this time, another team is joining the hunt—Luzon.
NCR zoomed to the top of the standing with 26 gold medals, 38 silvers and nine bronzes, with Visayas a distant second with a 12-12-15 gold-silver-bronze tally. Luzon is also making its presence felt in swimming and even in gymnastics and is a strong contender this year.
The overall title isn’t determined by the medals, but the points earned from each of the events.
“We are on shaky grounds. We are hoping our tennis, badminton and table tennis teams and what is left of our ballgames like football and volleyball and the rest of the athletes competing today will pull through in the last day. It is good to see another team getting strong. It may not mean a good thing for us but for the entire league, it is good to have competitive teams,” said Ballesteros.
In the first day of competitions, the track athletes expected to pull off huge wins but the Western Visayas athletes faltered and the reasons vary—fatigue because of a long boat trip, too heavy breakfast. One even grabbed a drink from someone at the side of the tracks and later, pounded on his chest before finally dropping out before finishing the 5,000-meter run. Another just lagged behind the rest of the field in the 400-meter run.
“They were so tired from their trip. They did not have a lot of rest before plunging into action and it hurt their performance. They were not performing this way in the regional finals,” said Visayas official Babette Capampangan.
Ballesteros also said some of the players may not have felt too well because they ate their breakfast just before the athletics events started.
“They usually compete before having breakfast but the event was so delayed so they decided to eat. Hopefully they recover from this today,” said Ballesteros. The start of the athletics competition was delayed by at least an hour. Before it started, officials were seen running around asking for coaches if they could borrow a shotput.
But then again, a Cebuano jumper stepped up for the team as 12-year-old Stephen Pekitpekit of Labangon Elementary School gave the team its first gold medal.
Star in the making
Pekitpekit, who stands 5’9”, jumped 4.79 meters for the win.
“I’m so happy to win the first gold for the team. It was not my best jump because I did better in the Cebu eliminations but I am still very happy,” said Pekitpekit, who is a first-timer in the nationals and is also hoping to also make it to the Palarong Pambansa.
Coach Arvin Loberanis said they saw Pekitpekit’s potential last year when they spotted him making jumps at the same level as high school athletes.
“His coach then decided to focus on training him in two jumping events and it worked,” said Loberanis.
Meanwhile, Joneza Mie Sustisuedo salvaged Western Visayas’s pride as the renowned barefoot runner decided to go back to where she is comfortable—running without shoes.
With just plasters wrapped on her feet and toes, Sustisuedo, the Palarong Pambansa record holder, not just won the 5,000-meter run but also defeated Visayas teammate Lovelie Andrin, the only runner to have defeated her in the Cebu eliminations that reduced the diminutive runner to tears.
Andrin finished only third.
“Pagtakbo ko, ang iniisip ko talaga, hindi yung maka gold lang ako. Gusto ko talaga siyang talunin. Kaya nag paa ako, kasi humihina ako pang nakasapatos,” said Sustisuedo, who became famous for making a record in the Palarong Pambansa even if she ran barefoot. She started wearing spike shoes in the Cebu eliminations and her time dramatically dropped.
She will still be competing in two other events today.
The other gold medalists for the Visayas yesterday were Niño Soria in the secondary boys long jump and Michelle Delcoro and Carl Babao in the elementary shotput.
The team also almost swept the 100-meter run with Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu’s Enrico Avila and Pearl Angeline Abellar winning the elementary division.
Raul Perez won the secondary boys division, while Ateneo’s Celina Rivalde won the silver in the girls side.
The sipa team of Inayawan Elementary School composed of Kevin Kames Ganabes, Ian Magallon, Lyle Kent Monte and McQuary Kyle Leong pulled off an impressive victory for the gold. Playing underdogs in its first few games, the team had a 1-1 win-loss record when it played NCR in its last match. NCR had the advantage having a clean 2-0 slate.
However, Inawayan defeated them to put them on even field, 2-1. But by virtue of winner of the other ruling, Visayas took home the gold.
The secondary boys table tennis team also has a chance of winning the gold as it holds a 2-0 record. In tennis, three teams will be fighting for the title today--the secondary girls and the elementary boys and girls teams.
In football, SHS-Ateneo blanked Luzon, 4-0, and NCR, 2-0, and will meet Mindanao for the gold medal today.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 21, 2012.