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The Philippine Asiad Athletics Campaign
December 3, 2010Posted by on
The Philippine Amateur Track & Field Association (PATAFA), one of the country’s best-performing NSA’s sent a crack team of Southeast Asian Games champions in the likes of hammer thrower Arniel Ferrera, steeplechaser Rene Herrera and distance runner Eduardo Buenavista. Henry Dagmil, a near 8.00-meter long jumper, and javelin throwers Danilo Fresnido and Rosie Villarito, also competed.
The Philippines sent its best athletes, led by 2010 Asian long jump champion Marestella Torres, to the Guangzhou Asiad, only to come home empty-handed. The Philippine athletics medal drought continues, with the country’s best hope, Torres, losing the bronze medal on count back.
- Marestella Torres (4th, Women’s long jump)
- Henry Dagmil (6th, Men’s long jump)
- Rosie Villarito (9th, Women’s javelin throw)
- Arniel Ferrera (9th, Men’s hammer throw)
- Danilo Fresnido (10th, Men’s javelin throw)
- Rene Herrera (13th, Men’s 3,000m steeplechase)
- Eduardo Buenavista (17th, Men’s marathon)
Aside from Torres, the closest to the medal standings was Dagmil at 6th place with his 7.45m leap. The Men’s long jump was won by South Korea’s Kim Deok-hyeon’s (김덕현). The Olympic and World Championships veteran was far from his lifetime best of 7.99m and his season’s best of 7.77m.
SEA Games hammer throw record-holder Arniel Ferrera placed 9th (58.06m). Tajikistan’s Dilshod Nazarov topped the field with his 76.44m heave. Likewise, Herrera finished 13th in the 3,000m steeplechase despite stopping the clock at season’s best of 9:02.93. The event was won by Tareq Mubarak Taher (8:25.89), a Kenyan-born Bahraini.
Photos from Daylife and Getty Images
The ageless Danilo Fresnido threw the javelin to 70.35m, good enough for 10th. Japan’s 2009 World Championship bronze medalist Yukifumi Murakami 村上 幸史 dominated the competition with his 83.15m mark. On the distaff side, Rosie Villarito (48.87m) finished second to the last at the women’s javelin throw competition. Japan scored a golden double in the javelin with Ebihira Yuki’s winning heave of 61.56 m.
Buenavista, the country’s long-time distance running ace, ran a puzzling if not utterly shocking race in the Men’s marathon (2:45.07), a far cry from his national record of 2:18.44. According to a report by the Manila Standard, Buenavista will be facing a PATAFA inquiry on his Asiad performance. (As an athlete myself – and a huge admirer of Vertek – I do not want to judge. Let us hear it from the man himself. For all we know, he could have been nursing an injury. Let us keep in mind that Vertek has competed with distinction for Flag and Country in countless other meets).
SEA Games success does not automatically translate into Asian Games success. Save for Torres and Dagmil, the level of competition in the Asiad was simply too much for our best track & field athletes. The government and the private sector did not spend millions on our track & field athletes, unlike the Smart Gilas Basketball team which finished 6th overall Filipino track athletes, like most Filipino athletes not playing in the PBA or not named Manny Pacquiao, are marginalized. Our lone IAAF-accredited stadium is currently under renovation with much controversy. Even if Torres and Dagmil had training and competition stints abroad, our domestic jumping facilities pale in comparison with our Asian neighbors.
The rest of the Asiad athletics campaigners aren’t as well-supported like Torres and Dagmil.
Indeed, you reap what you sow.
With their circumstances in mind, I cannot in all honesty lay the blame on our athletes alone. In fact, I’m welling up with much admiration for those eight brave souls – to go against Asia’s best for one’s motherland is an honor accorded to so few!
But then again, the words of POC’s Romasanta (a former Gintong Alay official) sounds promising. He emphasized focus on medal rich sports like gymnastics, swimming and athletics. I am not lambasting the well-meaning support of Smart for the country’s national basketball program since like most Filipinos, I’m a basketball fanatic as well. I’m just hoping that some kind corporate entity back an honest-to-goodness athletics program, similar to golf’ and shooting’s respective grassroots development schemes.
I’m a firm believer that a million pesos spent in the course of an athlete’s years-long preparation is money well-spent than a million peso reward given after winning a SEA Games, Asian Games or Olympic Gold.