BHUBANESWAR, India – Team Philippines wrapped up its campaign at the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships in remarkable fashion with Eric Shawn Cray bagging the gold medal in the men’s 400m hurdles in 49.56s as teammate Trenten Beram reset the RP record in the 200m twice in a row.
Cray led the field of formidable hurdlers from across Asia as Chinese Taipei’s Chie Chen settled for silver with 49.75s performance and India’s Jabir MP salvaged bronze with his 50.22s clocking.
Beram surpassed his own RP record in the 200m set during the 2016 PATAFA Weekly Relays during Round 1 of the event; during the finals where he came in fifth, he broke it again with a scintillating 20.96s timing, the first time ever a Filipino to go under the 21-second barrier.
During the first two days of the biennial Asian meet, team Philippines has already made remarkable performances with Ernest John Obiena finally breaking the 8-year medal drought of the Philippines as he soared to a height of 5.50m in his last attempt for the height to snatch the bronze medal in the pole vault event.
Mark Harry Diones picked up silver in the triple jump with a 16.54m leap. It was Diones’ first time to participate at the continental championships.
Other standouts from the national squad who gave remarkable performances are Anfernee Lopena who advances to the semi-final round of the 100m with his 10.86s clocking.
He is one of the members of the 4x100m quartet who set a new Philippine record during the Hong Kong Intercity Athletics Championships last June 25. Marestella Torres-Sunang, meanwhile, struggled to get her mark in the women’s long jump and settled for 5th place with a 6.20m jump on her third attempt.
Sunang is gearing up to regain her long jump title in the upcoming SEA Games. She owns the SEA Games record of 6.71m while her Philippine record stands at 6.72m.
Sunang won thrice in long jump in the Asian Championships, bronze in 2002, silver in 2005, and gold in 2009. Bui Thi Thu of Vietnam took the gold in this year’s edition with a 6.54m jump.
The next major competition in the offing for the national squad is the Pre-SEA Games Malaysia Open from July 16-18. Upon the return of the members of the national squad from HKSI, the entire athletics team is set to integrate and resume training at the PSC training camp in Baguio City.
“The whole idea is to capitalize on the winning momentum generated from all the competitions participated in by the team and the camaraderie built from the months of training together as a team.”, said PATAFA president Philip Juico.
The athletics chief is upbeat about the RP team’s chances in the upcoming SEA Games. “We are hoping to equal or surpass our medal harvest from the 2015 Singapore SEA Games. God willing and with the right strategy and discipline, we can do it.”, Juico added.
The buildup of the national athletics squad is fully supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, and in part by the Ayala Corporation, UCPB Gen, and Cherrylume Corrugated Sheets.
The Philippines finished 11th place overall at the biennial continental athletics conclave in a field of 45 Asian nations with 1 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze medals. It will be the best ever finish for team Philippines since 1991. The next Asian Championships will be held in Doha, Qatar in 2019.