Published by Kristel Satumbaga
Ilagan, Isabela — Two more golden chances slipped from Team Philippines as Vietnam continued its dominance in the 12th Southeast Asian Youth Athletics Championships at the City of Ilagan Sports Complex here.
Caviteña Jesell Lumapas did everything except win her events. She was runner-up in the girls’ 400m and third in the girls’ 200m.
Hometown bet John Carlo Yuzon added another bronze in the boys 200m while Bernalyn Bejoy of Negros Occidental also wound up third in the girls’ 400m hurdles.
After 29 events in the meet consigned only for 17-years-old and below, Team Philippines could only muster 8 silver and 13 bronze medals.
Whether the silver medals won by Team PH were signs of good things to come it will be known two years from now when the country plays host to the SEA Games.
The host for this year’s biennial meet is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In contrast, Vietnam is turning out to be the meet’s biggest revelation as it won seven more gold medals to improve its haul to 12 gold and 7 silver medals.
Fighting for second place are the region’s traditional powers in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Malaysia is currently ranked second with 5-5-6 followed by Indonesia (5-5-2), and Thailand (5-0-0).
Sadly, even the tiny city state of Singapore has overtaken Team PH with its 2-6-5 medal haul.
The 16-year-old Lumapas timed 58.94 seconds in the girls’ 400m, finishing less than a second behind gold winner Thi hong Han Le of Vietnam (58.16sec). Indonesia’s Maulidah came in third in 59.25sec.
“Sayang kasi pangit yung takbo ko ngayon,” said Lumapas, who came into the tournament still recuperating from fever and colds.
The Grade 10 student at Paliparan National High School in Dasmariñas returned with a third-place finish in the girls 200m with a time of 26.02sec. Malaysia’s Nor Aliyah Abd Rahman won the gold in 25.25 seconds while Vietnam’s Thi Hoa Duong settled for silver in 25.68 seconds.
But the biggest heartbreaker was Sanita.
The Palarong Pambansa and Batang Pinoy standout almost won the country’s first gold medal but ran out of gas in the final 200 meters of the 400m contest that allowed a Vietnamese to win the gold by a whisker.
She clocked 4 minutes and 55.63 seconds compared to Doan’s 4:45.53.
“Naubusan ako ng hangin nung bandang huli,” said Sanita, 16.