[PHOTO AT LEFT - Marestella Torres waves the RP flag as she makes the victory lap after her record-setting performance in women’s long jump. JUN MENDOZA |VIENTIANE]

VIENTIANE, LAOS, DECEMBER 17, 2009 (STAR) By Gerry Carpio - Marestella Torres leapt to the record books in a rare show of class, while ageless judoka John Baylon won his eighth straight Southeast Asian Games medal in a couple of heart-warming golden performances at the forefront of the country’s seven-gold haul for fifth place yesterday.

Torres ripped the 20-year-old mark in the long jump with a leap of 6.68 meters and in the judo hall at the Chao Inouvoung stadium in downtown Vientiane, Baylon won the gold in the over-78 kg class to win a record eighth straight gold. He has won in all his SEAG stints except in the Brunei Games where judo was not included in the calendar.

Equally spectacular were the golden efforts of women boxers Josie Gabuco, Alice Kate Apparri and Annie Albania, who all won the gold in convincing style at the boxing gym of the National University.

Wushu, a top performing sport during the last 10 years, finally scored and Tac Padilla, the first Filipino to compete in the SEA Games for 16 straight times, saved the day for the shooting team by winning the gold in the 25m rapid fire pistol at the National Sports Complex.

Sanshou entry Mariane Mariano (56 kgs) took a while to heat up but the 2008 Asian Cup bronze medal winner eventually dominated Nguyan Thi Oanh of Vietnam to nail wushu’s first gold after a three-fight shutout that affected the RP drive.

Mariano’s teammate Daniel Parantac settled for a bronze in the taiquijian and taijijian with 19.22 behind the 19.39 of Malaysian Jack Chang and Vietnam’s Nguyen Thanh Tung (19.29). In the female side of the event Stephanie Agbay was fifth.

Non-winners for RP on Wednesday were the men’s compound team in archery, which lost to Indonesia 224-231, the mixed triple in petanque that did not score against Vietnam 0-13, and 110m hurdles entry Sheila Atilano, who had a time of 14.37 behind winner Dedeh Erawati of Indonesia (13.34).

Jennifer Chan earlier won the gold in the women’s compound, while Earl Benjie Yap took the bronze in the men’s side over Thanonglityh Siriponh of Laos, 118-107.

With barely two days left in the biennial meet, the race for the overall supremacy took on interesting subplots with Thailand (61-68-79) slugging it out with Vietnam (61-55-47) for the overall championship. Indonesia (32-55-47) and Singapore (32-73-33) were in the heat of battle for third place, while the Philippines (30-24-41) surged ahead of Malaysia (29-36-51) in their battle for fifth.

“The goal is there and it’s a matter of keeping up the pressure on our opponents,” said PSC chair Harry Angping in a text message. He has a separate P300,000 cash reward for each RP victor here.

In tennis, Cecil Mamiit and Treat Huey made sure the singles gold will not slip through by hurdling their respective semis foes.

Mamiit beat Cambodia’s Tan Nysan, 6-1, 6-2, after 23- year-old Huey ousted Thailand’s Danai Udomchoke, 7-5, 7-6, 8-6.

“I think it’s the first time ever that two Filipinos will meet in the singles finals, so we can say we are the best at least in Southeast Asia,” said team manager Randy Villanueva.

“Sana magtuloy-tuloy pa tayo,” added the man whose charges are also on track for the golds in mixed doubles and men’s and women’s doubles.

From some other fronts came sad stories.

Also at the National University petanque court, the mixed triples team (one woman, two men) of Mary Grace Munar, Aristides Samia and Arnulfo Masumbol could only come up with a bronze, while Lloyd Catiphon bowed out right in the quarterfinals of the 66kg-and-under.

There's no need to reinvent the wheel SPORTS FOR ALL By Philip Ella Juico (The Philippine Star) Updated December 17, 2009 12:00 AM

As of this writing, the Philippine contingent to the 25th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vientiane, Laos is struggling to finish among the top three in the race for the overall championship of the biennial event. With a number of sports disciplines scrapped from the program that have been the sources of gold medals like basketball and fencing, the Philippines finds itself hard pressed in subjective events like boxing, taekwondo, karate do and wushu where the outcome can very well be dictated by judges who may see the bouts in very different ways. In a sense, this struggle was anticipated because the Philippines knew way before the games kicked off last week that a substantial number of gold medal-rich events were to be missed in the 25th SEA Games due to financial constraints faced by Laos.

An offer by the Philippines to help finance the staging of the basketball competitions, where the Philippines is fancied to win the gold medal, was turned down by Laos, a founding member of the SEA Games’ precursor, the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games or SEAP Games. What compounded our problems was our own inability to come together and unite as a country in preparing for this particular unique SEA Games which excluded sports that account for a good number of gold medals. As a result, as of Sunday noon, we were in a tight race with Laos for sixth spot with 11 gold medals apiece.

The Philippines had, however, more silver medals than Laos, 16 to four, and a greater number of total medals won, 46 to 34. The Laotians, also as of Sunday, or after three days of competitions, are almost halfway to their goal of 25 gold medals with their 11-gold medal output. The Philippines however kept afloat through our taekwondo jins who captured four gold medals against the three they expected.

At the end of the taekwondo competitions, the jins had a 4-4-4 (gold, silver and bronze) medal count which is a marked improvement over its performance in the 2007 SEA Games in Nakhonratchasima, Thailand where the team brought home only one gold medal and four silver and seven bronze medals. Despite the meager number of gold medals, chef de mission Mario Tanchangco expected things to get better when Team Philippines vies in medal rich events such as athletics, swimming, billiards (where overwhelming favorites Bata Reyes and Django Bustamante however lost to unheralded cue artists), boxing, tennis (which accounted for the country’s lone Saturday gold medal late at night), wushu and judo, according to a GMA news TV report.

Aside from giving the Laotians a patriotic high, the Lao tourism industry and related businesses in Vientiane have gained a major financial boost as thousands of tourists flock to the capital city for the 25th SEA Games, according to the Vientiane Times.

The report says that most of the 7,000 hotel and guesthouse rooms, which the Vientiane Hotel and Restaurant Association arranged to accommodate the visitors during the SEA Games, were full.

Businesses and economists estimate that one visitor spends at least US$100 a day while staying in Laos. Thus, more than $700,000 a day will be injected into the Lao tourism industry and related businesses in Vientiane, according to the Vientiane Times. The optimistic mood of Laotians all around is a far cry however from the weeping and gnashing of teeth that is expected should the Philippines fare lower than third overall.

I have said a zillion times and I’ll say it again: if we want to be taken seriously by the international sports community and wish to attain a certain amount of consistency in our performance in sports, we do need to formulate a multi-sector Master Plan for Sports. The Plan will provide in detail the role of the main stakeholders in sports and physical education: The Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Olympic Committee.

Whether they like it or not, these four agencies are key participants in any long-term sports development program that goes beyond scheduling games, tournaments and helping the PSC rule on travel tax exemptions.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. We have the basic framework for sports development, as I have repeatedly stated. We have the PSC law and the executive orders creating the physical fitness and sports development councils from the national down to the barangay levels. We have a Plan that was put together in 1995-1996, which should be updated. We have our biggest resource: our people, but they need to be part of a well-thought out plan and get organized from the barangay to the national levels. More on the Master Plan for Sports next week.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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