Davao City—Lanky long-jumper Algin Gomez cleared a record-breaking 7.55 meters on his sixth and last attempt, while barefoot runner Lheslie de Lima topped the 3,000-meter run to bring home the first gold medals at the start of the 2019 Palarong Pambansa here.
The 18-year-old Gomez not only improved on the 6.96-meter leap that gave him the gold medal last year, he also broke the seven-year meet record of Julian Reem Fuentes of 7.26 meters after he took pains working on his takeoff and landing techniques over at the University of Mindanao-Matina oval.
It could have been a new national junior record as well after Gomez, a 12th grader at Aparri East National High School, surpassed the 7.43-meter performance of Jose Jerry Bellibestre in the 2019 Philippine National Open.
But a headwind of more than two meters per second kept technical officials from considering it as a national mark, now that Philippine junior records can now be recognized in the Palaro.
Department of Education officials have gotten approval to have the Palaro trackfest officially sanctioned by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association.
“It’s all proper timing on my takeoff and landing,” said Gomez, who stretched the toes of his right foot in his bid to go the distance, upon the advise of his coaches Steve Lagua and Jenna Cagurangan.
The feat handed Region 2 its first gold, along with Region V, which earned its first gold medal as well through De Lima.
The 14-year-old De Lima, who loves to run middle-distance events on her bare feet and with a medical plaster as her only protection for her soles, left behind her rival Camila Tubiano in the last 250 meters to retain the secondary girls’ 3,000-meter honors for a third straight year in 10:22.42.
“Kinakabahan po ako. Hindi ko po alam kung sino sa amin ang mananalo,” said De Lima, a student at the Baao National High School.
In other the elementary level events, Bellanca Valerio (Region III) claimed the girls’ discus throw honors beating Jazen Arano (NCR) and Mekyla Taborite (Region VI).
In baseball, Western Visayas got its campaign going on the right track, beating Cordillera, 4-2, while Caraga downed Mimaropa, 5-0, and Central Visayas prevailed over Northern Mindanao, 5-0.
In secondary boys’ basketball, Ilocos Region prevailed over Socsargen, 89-79, while Western Visayas stopped Mimaropa, 97-87, and Southern Tagalog demolished Bicol Region, 74-71.
In girls’ basketball action, Northern Mindanao smashed ARMM, 120-29, while Socsargen outplayed Zamboanga, 75-69, and Southern Tagalog crushed Mimaropa, 120-50.
Eighteen gold medals are at stake when action begins today in swimming over at the University of the Philippines-Davao Sports Complex.
In lawn tennis, Davao Region won over the National Capital Region, 2-0, while Southern Tagalog put away Socsargen, and Eastern Visayan prevailed over Cagayan Valley, 2-1.
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