APAYAO continues to flex its muscle as it stayed on course for its possible highest finish in the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (Caraa) hosted by the province.
Baguio slowly pulled away in the over-all team standings with 69 golds, 44 silvers and 32 bronze medals as of 2:30 p.m. March 1 while the host province bagged 27 golds, 18 silvers and 16 bronze medals as it holds on the second spot.
Apayao’s gymnasts showed the way for the host province having won already eight gold medals in the elementary and secondary division.
Barrel James Pablo became the province’s first multi gold medalist by winning in the floor exercise, vault and individual all–around in the elementary men’s artistic gymnastics while Princess Sanidad scooped two gold medals by winning the gold medal in the individual aerogymnastics and in trio category together with Pia Sanidad and Arianne Poblete.
In the secondary division, the mixed pair Rovien Mark Almazan and Lei-Anne Opinio earned them a gold medal in aero gymnastics while Jesreal Pacoy took home the top prize in the women artistic gymnastics - balance beam event.
Anna Claire Dumincil took the gold in aero gymnastics individual event then joined the duo of Lei-Anne Opinio and Davie Joy Marcos to bag home the gold in the trio event.
Vincent Talattag, Apayao provincial administrator, is optimistic the province will maintain its standing in the weeklong regional sports meet which ends on Sunday, March 3.
“This has been our target, to be the first runner–up because we know for a fact that Baguio is unbeatable. Hopefully our athletes can sustain their efforts and we believe they can accomplish our goal because we have been training them since last year,” he said.
Apayao is hoping to surpass its third place finish when it hosted CARAA in 2013.
Perennial runner-up Benguet is running third with 13 gold medals including 24 silvers and 24 bronze having won in dance sports, chess, and taekwondo in the elementary division while the secondary team secured gold medals in athletics, billiards, and dance sports.
Running fourth place is Abra with 11 - 15 - 32 medal followed by Ifugao at 6 - 15 -22 with Tabuk City bagging 3 - 10 - 6.
Mountain Province and Kalinga are currently at seventh and eighth with 3 - 7 - 6 and 3 - 2 - 3 medal haul respectively.
Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones earlier urged elementary and high school athletes in the Cordillera to play with honesty, courage and dignity as she addressed the athletes during the opening of Caraa at the Apayao Eco-Tourism and Sports Complex in Payanan, Luna.
“It’s not just winning, although that is our goal, to win in your events, but beyond that, it is how you played the game and the lessons you learned in the process,” Briones told the over 7,000 athletes and coaches from the six provinces and two cities of the region.
Bannered by the theme “One Team, One Vision,” the annual sports meet showcases the athletic prowess of athletes and the growing strength of grassroots sports developments of the region.
Briones said the lessons should be foremost as they will all be together as one region in representing the country during the Palarong Pambansa.