SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, ANTIQUE: Veruel Verdadero made the 2017 Palarong Pambansa his own playground after winning all of his five events in the final day of the athletics competition on Friday at the Binirayan Sports Complex here.
As the National Capital Region (NCR) waits one more day to be officially crowned the meet’s overall champion for the 13th straight time, the 15-year old Verdadero emerged as the most bemedalled trackster in the 60th Palarong Pamansa.
The incoming Grade 9 student at Immaculate Concepcion Academy in Cavite capped his perfect performance after anchoring Calabarzon’s 4×100-meter relay team to a gold medal finish with the time of 42.48 seconds, edging NCR (42.91) and Davao (43.01).
“I’m very happy for this opportunity. It’s my first time to win five medals in Palaro,” said Verdadero, who is now being wooed by universities and colleges in Metro Manila. “I’m not thinking of that yet. I just want to compete two more years in Palaro.”
Verdadero also won the 200-m run earlier and previously topped the 100-m and 400-m events. He likewise led his teammates to victory in the 4×400-m relay. Calabarzon also won the secondary girls 4×100-m relay.
But not everything was good news for Calabarzon as its secondary basketball team, the defending champion, was dethroned by host region Western Visayas, 79-61, in their semifinals game. Western Visayas will face NCR, a 72-45 winner over Central Visayas, in the finals on Saturday morning.
Two more records were broken in athletics as Calabarzon’s 4×400-m relay team and NCR’s Francis Obiena set new Palaro marks.
The relay squad of Calabarzon posted a time record of 3:54.37 to win the gold erasing the old record of 3:56.43 set by Eastern Visayas last year in Legazpi City.
Obiena remained the meet’s pole vault king after erasing his own record. Obiena, a gold medalist in the 12th Southeast Asian Youth Athletics Championships in Ilagan, Isabela last March, hurdled 4.30 meters, erasing his old record of 4:06 meters he set last year. He attempted for 4.40 meters but failed.
“I’m happy with my performance even if I didn’t get the 4.40. I really wanted to get the 4.40 so that my record will stay longer here,” said the 17-year old Obiena, an incoming Grade 12 student at Chiang Kai Shek College. His goal is to reach the five-meter mark to be able to join the senior rank of the national team.
Cagayan Valley’s Mark del Rosario (3.70) and Central Luzon’s John Paul Parulan (3.30) took the silver and bronze, respectively.
In the 200-m dash secondary girls, sprint queen Bianca Jane Combate finished first but was disqualified by race officials after stepping out of her lane. The gold went to Central Visayas’ Samantha Limos who clocked in 25.40 seconds followed by Calabarzon’s Jessel Lumapas (25.57) and Negros Island’s Angel Ann Pranisa (25.79).
NCR continued to pull away in the medal standings after collecting 82 gold, 44 silver and 37 bronze in the penultimate day of the competition. Western Visayas stayed second with a 33-19-30 (gold-silver-bronze) tally followed by Calabarzon (24-47-41), Cordillera Administrative Region (21-18-20) and Soccsksargen (19-20-29).
Over at the Evelio B. Javier pool, there’s no stopping the NCR tankers from dominating the tilt as they added seven more to their gold medal haul in the final day of the swimming competition.
Sacho Ilustre led the Big City tankers with seven gold including four records. His last record-breaking feat was in the 200-m free style, where he finished with 1:56 eclipsing the 2015 mark of 1:58.83, which he also set in Tagum City.
NCR also broke two more records in swimming courtesy of Jerald Jacinto and its secondary girls 200-m free relay team.
Jacinto broke his time trial time of 2:11:49 by submitting 2:09.87 in the finals to capture his fourth gold medal in the secondary boys 200-m backstroke. The NCR 200-m relay squad timed in 1:54.13 to erase the previous Palaro mark of 1:55.26 set by Calabarzon in 2012 edition of the meet in Pangasinan.
Soccsksargen’s Thea Diane Canda also set a new record in the elementary girls 400-m freestyle with the time of 4:47.70, eclipsing the old mark of 4:51.70 set by Imee Joyce Saavedra in the 2014 Palarong Pambansa in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
NCR won 10 gold medals in the table tennis competition. The Big City paddlers ruled the elementary boys singles (courtesy of Virgilio Manuel Almarillo 3rd), the team and mixed double events as well as the elementary girls mixed doubles.
The Big City also bagged the gold in the secondary boys singles (courtesy of Romualdo Ramiro, Jr.), the secondary girls singles (courtesy of Jannah Maryam Romero) as well as the team and mixed doubles events.
CAR captured eight gold medals in taekwondo while Negros Island, NCR and Northern Mindanao each had seven. The jins of host region Western Visayas copped six gold.
Over at St. Anthony’s College, Davao won four gold medals in wushu followed by CAR with three and Western Visayas two.
In elementary boys football, Western and Central Visayas face off for the crown after beating their respective semis foes. Central Visayas downed ARMM, 3-1, while the host region blanked Davao, 2-0.