INCHEON, South Korea: Tae kwon do delivered another bronze medal for the Philippines but it failed to push up the country’s ranking with two days left in the 2014 Asian Games.
De La Salle University standout Benjamin Keith Sembrano lost to Chinese Huang Jiannan, 16-3, in the semifinals of the men’s -68 kilograms and settled for third place.
Sambrano had defeated Kuwait’s Hasan Abdullah in the first round, 12-10, and Thailand’s Chetrapee Tangjai in the quarterfinals, 12-9.
Southeast Asian Games bronze medalist Jane Rafaelle Narra bowed to China’s Guo Yunfei, 5-0, in the women’s -67 kgs. quarterfinals.
John Paul Lizardo and Francis Aaron Agojo hope to close out the team’s campaign on a high note as they battle unheralded opponents on the final day of tae kwon do.
Lizardo is tipped to win against Laos’ Thipphakone Kuangmany in the men’s -54 kgs. round-of-32 while Agojo tackles Myanmar’s Shein Naing Dwe in the men’s -58 kgs. round-of-16.
As of Thursday, the Philippines was in 22nd position in the medal race with a lone gold, two silvers and six bronzes.
The gold came from BMX rider Daniel Patrick Caluag, while wushu’s Daniel Parantac and Jean Claude Saclag added the silvers.
The bronze collection was courtesy of tae kwon do’s Samuel Morisson, Mary Anjelay Pelaez and Ronna Ilao, archery’s Paul dela Cruz and wushu’s Francisco Solis.
Boxing could produce another gold. Charly Suarez continued his impressive run to earn a spot in the men’s lightweight finals. He nipped Jordan’s Obada Mohammad Mustafa Alkasabeh via a 2-1 split decision in the semifinal, with two judges favoring the 26-year-old World Series of Boxing campaigner, and the third scoring it 29-28 for the Jordanian.
Suarez fights for the gold on Friday against Mongolian Othgondalai Dorjnyambuu, a 3-0 winner over Satoshi Shimizu of Japan.
Three more Filipino boxers were scheduled to enter the ring on Thursday night. Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga takes on South Korea’s Shin Jonghun in the men’s light flyweight, Mario Fernandez squares off with China’s Zhang Jiawei (men’s bantamweight), and Wilfredo Lopez meets Jordan Odai Riyad Adel Alhindawi (men’s middleweight).
In bowling, Marie Alexis Sy finished last in the women’s masters after rolling 2,953 points.
Caluag, who returned to Manila on Wednesday night, will receive his P1million incentive from the Philippine Sports Commission on Thursday.
He is scheduled to leave for the US Friday night, just hours after he receives his reward in simple ceremonies at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex athletes’ lounge. The 27-year-old Caluag, who also won in the Asian Championship in 2013, is a nurse in the US.
Expected to attend the rites are Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Jose Cojuangco and Integrated Cycling Federation of the Philippines President Bambol Tolentino, a member of the House of Representatives representing Tagaytay City.
“I remained focused on my task for these Games by racing with the world’s best in the US,” Caluag said. “BMX in the US is such on a high level that on a given weekend, you get the best training, preparation and competition possible,” said Caluag, whose father is from Bataan and his mother from Bulacan.
Caluag’s coach, Greg Romero, will also receive P500,000 as incentive.
Caluag’s gold was the Philippines’ first in cycling since the 1951
The last Filipino to win an Asiad cycling medal was former Tour of Luzon champion Victor Espiritu, who took the bronze in the men’s road race in 1988 in Bangkok.
BMX become an Olympic event during the 2008 Beijing Games. Hong Kong’s Steven Wong won the gold in the 2010 Asiad in Guangzhou.
Malacañang hailed Caluag’s victory.
“We join the Filipino nation in celebrating the gold-medal victory of Daniel Patrick Caluag in the BMX cycling event in the 2014 Incheon Games,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement on Thursday.
“With remarkable skill and talent, he has demonstrated the Filipinos’ courage and resiliency in global athletic competitions,” Coloma added.
WITH REPORTS FROM FRANK CALAPRE AND CATHERINE S. VALENTE