HANOI, December 11, 2003  (STAR) By Gerry Carpio (Via Globe Telecom) ó For showbiz celebrity Richard Gomez, his turn could have come yesterday after several bridesmaid finishes in the Southeast Asian Games.

The eventual gold medalist, comebacking Siriroj Rattaprasert of Thailand, has been his regular victim since 1996 but the movie idol-TV host-sportsman just couldnít get showbiz load off his hands this year and was left out of the Philippine roster of individual epee participants in the 22nd Southeast Asian Games here.

"Masyado akong busy kaya off and on ang training ko," said Goma, who is here to play as member of the epee team.

Siriroj last won the epee event in 1995 and has been on the decline ever since.

Goma, who used to be top-ranked epee player in the country, dropped in the rankings this year after he failed to compete in national championships.

He, however, was picked to join the four-member epee team which is scheduled to play tomorrow at the National Fencing Center.

Wilfredo Vizcayno and Alex Victorino competed in the individual event, with Victorino reaching only as far as the quarterfinals and Vizcayno entering the finals where he lost to the Thai, 15-11, to settle for the silver.

Vizcayno himself lost to the taller Rattaprasert, 5-4, in the eliminations but he advanced to the semifinals with a win over Ang Chez Yee of Singapore, 3-2. He defeated Chez Yee in the semifinals, 11-10 to advance to the gold medal round against Rattaprasert.

Despite the loss in the first event in fencing, national coach Benny Nuestro sees a bright prospect for the national fencers in the team epee for men and the team and individual saber for men.

Wally Mendoza defeated Thaiís top bet, Weeradek, the Olympic bronze medalist, in the World Cup in Lisbon, Portugal last year and looms as the top pick to retain his crown in the saber event which starts today.

The menís team epee also has bright chances of clinching the gold in the menís epee.

The hosts, however, may spring a surprise over perennial power house Indonesia and Thailand following their intensive 12-month training in neighboring China.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved