Sad day for RP swimmers

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — The God of golds frowned upon Team Philippines Saturday as a sprinkling of silver and bronze medals adorned the Filipinos’ campaign in the 25th Southeast Asian Games here.

Swimmer Ryan Arabejo set a new SEA Games mark in the 400-m freestyle with a time of 3:56.08, but the effort still fell short as gold medalist Daniel Bego of Malaysia had an even better clocking of 3:53.99.

The previous record stood at 3:57.34 owned by Torlap Sethasothan of Thailand and registered during the 1995 meet in Chiang Mai.

It was the second silver medal for Arabejo after a similar runner up finish in the 200m backstroke Thursday.

The rest of the swimmers failed to make it to the medal podium as Charles Walker finished fourth in the men’s 100m backstroke and Dorothy Hong fifth in the same event in the distaff side.

A ray of hope for a possible gold looms late Saturday night as the team of Cecil Mamiit and Treat Huey was to battle Danai Udomcoke and Thailand in the final of the men’s squad.

Huey won over Kittiphong Wachiramanowong in the opening singles,6-4, 1-6, 7-5, but Mamiit lost to long-time rival Udomchoke, 6-2, 6-4, in the second singles to pave the way for the decisive doubles match.

After grinding out golds the past three days, taekwondo finally faltered as the Lizardo siblings – Jayra and John Paul – came up short in their respective events, typifying the Filipinos’ struggle on the fourth day of competitions in the region’s biggest sporting meet this country is hosting for the very first time.

John Paul made it as far as the gold medal round of the finweight division, but ran smack against a tough Thai opponent in Jerranat Nakaviroj, winner of the gold in the 2008 Asian Taekwondo Championship, 3-8.

Meanwhile, Jayra, 17, and a World Junior Taekwondo Championship bronze medalist, fell in her semifinal match against Worawong Pongpanit also of Thailand.

In all, the Filipino jins finished with four golds, four silvers and four bronzes as action in the sport finally came to a close. The figures improved the 1-4-7 medal tally taekwondo turned in during the 2007 SEA Games.

Diver Nino Carog provided the day’s other silver medal in the male 3m springboard as he scored 429 points to finish second behind Malaysian Ken Nee Yeoh (450.45). Teammate Zandro Domenios (377) was a far fifth.

The sad fate of the Filipinos saw them being overtaken by host Laos in sixth place as they tallied 7-13-15 at the end of the day. The host is just a gold ahead, with four silvers and 16 bronzes.

Vietnam continued to hold sway on top of the medal standings with 20-17-18, although not far behind is 10-time champion Thailand with 18-23-27. Malaysia is now at third place with 14-14-23, followed by Singapore (14-6-15) and Indonesia (12-12-19).

Aside from Jyra Lizardo, also salvaging bronze medals were karatedo’s Ace Eso in the 55kg kumite and and kumite team of Eso, Michael Dumayag, Noel Espinosa, Rolando Lagman, Junel Perana, Irineo Toribio and Joel Gonzaga in team kumite.

The women’s tennis team of Denise Dy and Riza Zalameda likewise bagged a bronze, so did flyweight Preciosa Ocaya, light-fly Maricel Subang, pinweight May Libao and welter Harold Gregorio in muay.

Matches in karatedo were also completed Saturday, where the Filipinos won a lone gold courtesy of Marla Pabilore (kumite 55 kg). The karatekas added two silver and three bronzes to their campaign.