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Philippine track and field team triumphs at ASEAN Para Games

PHNOM PENH — At five years old, King James Reyes lost his right arm after falling from a java apple (macopa) tree back home in Loreto, Agusan del Sur.

He didn’t let it stop him from pursuing his dream.

Now 21 years old, Mr. Reyes is on top of the world after he spearheaded the Philippines’ three-gold charge with a glorious 800-meter T46 triumph yesterday that kept the Filipinos’ heads above water in the 12th ASEAN Para Games at the Morodok Techo National Stadium here.

Edged out for the gold and settling for a pair of silver in his first two events in the 5000m Sunday and 1500m the next day, the second year student and Adamson varsity athlete saved his best for last in snaring the gold in two minutes and 13.22 seconds.

He also served Muhammad Ashraf Muhammad, the 5000m and 1500m winner, a dish best served cold — revenge — as the Malaysian wound up with the silver in 2:13.25.

Mr. Reyes’ triumph was the first of three by the country in centerpiece athletics with the other two delivered by Rosalie Torrefiel in the women’s javelin F11 and Andrei Kuizon in men’s shot put F53/54.

Ms. Torrefiel flattened the field with a magnificent 19.33m, or more than a full meter over Thai Ratnaningsih Ratnaningsih’s 18.05m.

Vietnamese Nguyen Thi Chin had a 17.98 for the bronze.

For Mr. Kuizon, a former wheelchair basketball player who was trained by former national thrower Nixon Mas, heaved 7.27m in asserting his might over a field that included eventual silver winner Phe Phawat of Cambodia, who had a 4.17m.

The three-gold haul for the day improved the country’s harvest to six — the same number of golds the country captured last time.

Expect more to come in with a day left in the four-day track meet.

“This event is full of surprises so we’ll just cross our fingers and hope we get more positive results,” said Philippine athletics coach Joel Deriada.

Over at the Royal University, the prolific Filipino chessers headed by double-gold rapid winner Darry Bernardo and rapid women’s PI champion Cheyzer Mendoza have stayed on target to improve on their current three-gold haul.

Bernardo was the solo lead in the B2B3 class while Mendoza shared the top spot in the PI section after three rounds of the six-round standard event.

At press time, the Filipinos were at No. 5 in the overall medal race with a 15-18-18 (gold-silver-bronze) collection behind Indonesia’s 71-61-41, Thailand’s 46-49-36, Vietnam’s 31-29-45 and Malaysia’s 30-23-14.

“We’re still on target,” said PSC Commissioner and chef-de-mission Walter Torres referring to surpassing the country’s 28-gold effort in Surakarta.

In table tennis also in Morodok, Smith Billy Cartera and Racleo Martinez (men’s class 4 team event) and Leo Macalanda, Jobert Lumanta and Jayson Ocampo  (men’s class 8) accounted for a pair of bronzes.

In swimming, Ariel Joseph Alegarbes missed out on a mint after a silver finish in the 100m butterfly S14. — Joel Villar

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