MANILA, December 21, 2005 
(STAR) By Joey Villar - FIDE Master Sander Severino ended his campaign in chess in the third ASEAN Para Games the way he started it — in winning ways — as he copped two more gold medals to emerge the best Filipino performer at the close of the week-long event yesterday.

Severino, a polio victim, bounced back from a silver-medal finish in the individual event for the handicapped and blind Monday by winning the gold in blindfold via sweep while powering Team Philippines to another gold-medal feat in team play.

A former national kiddies champion, Severino thus became the most bemedalled Filipino athlete with a five-gold medal haul, counting his earlier victories in the individual and team handicapped and team combined to cop the top individual honors at the GSIS Hall in Pasay City.

Severino’s perfect score in blindfold plus the combined seven points of NM Henry Lopez and Francis Ching also helped power the Nationals to the team gold of this event sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, PCSO, DPWH, PLDT-Smart, Manila City, American President Line and official insurance Malayan Insurance and backed by NBN 4, Pfizer, Inc., Red Ribbon, Crossover 105.1, DZSR Sports Radio, IBM, Mettephione and GSIS.

Lopez, for his part, finished second behind Severino in individual blindfold for his second silver medal. He has a total of four gold medals — team handicapped, individual and team combined, and team blindfold — for runner-up honors.

RP won seven of the eight gold medals staked in chess, in stark contrast to the zero-of-eight output by the RP chessers in last week’s 23rd Southeast Asian Games in Tagaytay City. Vietnam came out the overall chess champion with a stirring eight-game sweep.

Minnie Ramos also came through on the final day by beating Vietnamese Tran Nguyen Quyanh, 11-12, 11-8, 12-10, 11-5, in the singles Class 8 (handicapped) of the table tennis event for her second golden effort at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

She teamed up with visually-impaired Josephine Medina — one of the only two gold medalists in the 2003 Hanoi Para Games who is also a double-gold medal winner here— Saturday in copping the doubles gold.

The final day triple gold feat hiked RP’s total to 22 gold, 41 silver and 37 bronze medals in a surprise sixth place finish. RP had a two-gold, 15-silver and 23-bronze medal output in Hanoi two years ago.

Thailand completed its expected romp for the overall championship for the second straight year with a total haul of 139-64-28 (gold-silver-bronze), besting Vietnam and Malaysia with 80-36-22 and 75-40-26, respectively.

Indonesia was fourth with 30-29-12, Myanmar fifth with 29-12-4, Singapore seventh (15-9-9) and Brunei eighth with 7-5-5.

Cambodia went home with three silver and two bronze medals while Laos had two silver medals and a bronze. Timor Leste didn’t win a single medal.

"Our performance only proves we have the potential and given sufficient support, proper exposure and training, our athletes can excel and bring honor for flag and country," Para Games organizing committee chair Mike Barredo said. "We are now setting our sights on a possible gold in the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing."

Barredo also expressed delight over the goals achieved by the successful hosting of the third ASEAN Para Games.

"We have achieved all our objectives and these are to promote regional solidarity and tradition, create awareness for nations to take cognizance of the needs of the differently abled in so far as their mental, physical and spiritual strength is concerned. It also provided an avenue for them to become productive citizens and maintain the standard of level of competition," he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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