• Lady pug Gabuco gets finals berth in Myanmar

    Josie Gabuco FILE PHOTO

    Josie Gabuco FILE PHOTO

    World champion Josie Gabuco barged into the finals of the women’s 48-kg. category in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games boxing competitions in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.

    The 27-year-old Gabuco scored an impressive unanimous victory (40-34, 40-36, 40-34) over Sonrka Chanthavonrsa of Laos to stay in hunt for her third straight SEA Games gold medal. Gabuco ruled the 2009 Laos and 2011 Indonesia editions.

    Nesthy Petecio earlier earned a spot in the women’s featherweight finals.

    In canoe-kayak, Hermie Macaranas had 2:03.038 to finish fourth in the men’s C1 500-meter canoeing event while Alex Generalo was sixth in the men’s MK 1,500m canoeing after submitting 1:58.018.

    In swimming, London Olympian Jasmine Alkhaldi and Filipino-American Matt Louis Navatta advanced to the finals of their events.

    Alkhaldi placed second overall in the preliminary round with a 57.76-second showing in the women’s 100m freestyle while Navatta checked in at 4:34.04 to grab the third position in the men’s 400m individual medley preliminaries.

    The finals were scheduled on Thursday night.

    In karatedo, 2011 Indonesia SEA Games bronze medalist Orencio James Delos Santos will open his bid in the men’s kata category.

    “Back then, I kinda felt more nervous and I was rather scrawny at that time. I’ve now bulked up and I have more power and speed. I’ve also been practicing my katas twice a day,” said Delos Santos.

    Meanwhile, Team Philippines’ billiard team suffered a big shock on Thursday morning after hearing the news of Iris Ranola’s father death.

    Rubilen Amit said her teammate’s father has long been suffering from cancer.

    Team Philippines psychologist Rey Canlas is set to have a talk with Ranola later Thursday to help determine the Zamboanga City native’s plans for the remainder of the 27th SEA Games.

    “It’s too soon to tell, because she’s still grieving. Maybe later, after her talk with Dr. Canlas, we’ll know,” said Amit.

    Ranola is set defend her 9-ball singles crown on Friday.

    Bullish Myanmar targets 100 gold medals
    Myanmar set its sights on the ambitious target of 100 gold medals at the SEA Games on Thursday after stunning guests with a lavish opening ceremony.

    The sports ministry’s deputy director-general Onh Myint Oo said the hosts, who have not topped the SEA Games medals table since the 1960s, were going for 100 golds and maybe more.

    “We are targeting 100 gold medals and hopefully more,” he told Agence France-Presse.

    Myanmar won just 16 gold medals at the Games’ last edition in 2011, meaning they are aiming for more than a six-fold increase.

    The impoverished country now emerging from decades of military rule has not finished top of the medals table since last hosting the regional tournament in 1969.

    But Myanmar, backed heavily by Chinese money, put on an impressive spectacle in Wednesday’s opening ceremony, whose scale and quality took some observers by surprise.

    “People are happy across the country. They had tears in their eyes, it was the best opening ceremony at any SEA Games,” said Onh Myint Oo, one of the ceremony’s key organisers.

    “We are grateful to the Chinese for their help with the opening ceremony,” he added.

    China has provided nearly $33 million in technical assistance for the Games, including the opening and closing ceremonies.

    The opening ceremony took place at the purpose-built, 30,000-seat Wunna Theikdi stadium, one of several new venues in the country’s capital Naypyidaw.

    However Myanmar will face stiff competition, not least from 2011 hosts and table-toppers Indonesia, who are aiming to accrue nearly 150 gold medals.

    Indonesia finished with 182 golds two years ago but the chairman of Prima, the body in charge of preparing the country’s athletes, said funding cuts have since taken their toll.

    “After a thorough discussion with the national sports federations, we think getting 115 to 147 gold medals is a reasonable target,” Surya Dharma said.

    “Prima is confident the athletes can manage that number. We could have achieved higher if the government provided more support for the preparation.”

    He added: “We’re dealing with a budget shortage, so we’re relying on 23 sports to yield medals.

    “Due to the reduced funding, we were unable to ensure that athletes got the training and match practice they needed ahead of the Games.”

    Initial competition started on December 1 but most events got under way on Thursday following the opening ceremony.



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