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Cebu runner wins 1st gold

MAASIN CITY, Leyte — Ivan Miguel Santos of Cebu City ran away with the meet’s first gold medal after ruling the boys 5,000-meter yesterday in the Philippine Sports Commission-Philippine Olympic Committee Batang Pinoy Visayas qualifying leg at Southern Leyte Sports Complex here.

The 14-year-old Santos, whose father Lt. Col. Michael Santos is now based in Cotabato City, kept his pace from start to finish to dominate the event despite nursing cough and colds.

“I thank God for letting me win because I’m not really feeling well,” said 5-foot-9 Santos, a high school junior at University of San Carlos who is guided by coaches Arvin Loberanis and Ilde Banson. He finished 18 minutes and 31 seconds, slower than his 17:36 personal best.

Santos’ main event is the 3,000 steeplechase but it won’t be held here so his coaches instead decided to field him in middle and long distance events. The Batang Pinoy novice will see action in 1,500m and 800m in the coming days.

Joining Santos in the spotlight was teammate Shantel Tanucan, the big-boned girl who handily won the long jump event. Tanucan made her gold-medal jump of 4.56 meters on her fourth try.

Last year’s Visayas leg gold winner in high jump, Tanucan said she looks forward to sweep all three jumping events as she gears for triple jump and high jump competitions in the coming days.

Sandra Anne Marie Empino, a 12-year-old first-timer put Tacloban City into the gold medal column right on the opening day after topping the girls 2000m walk in 15:06.05.

The lean, 5-foot-2 Empino was actually training for throwing events but her coach Jessie Delbo saw her potential in walking event because of the 7th-grader’s long limbs and strides.

Her victory denied Maasin City’s attempt at a breakthrough title as local girl Abegail Aguelo could only end up second with 15:09.01, while Leyte Sports Academy-Smart’s Kimberly Joy Gatela was third with 15:09.52 time.

Also turning in gold medal performance was shot put thrower Lanz Jeremy Halongong of Iloilo Province.

The burly, 5-foot-7 Halongong, a junior at Iloilo National High School, was still disappointed over his 10.94m winning throw.

The last year’s double gold winner in BP National Finals said his personal best was 12 meters, but he was bothered by a wrist injury he sustained after playing basketball.

His teammate John Christian Capasao threw 10.80m to settle for silver, while Cebu City’s Jan Dean Durano was bronze medalist after a 10.33m effort.

Most of the 20-sport calendar also went underway yesterday with their elimination matches, including boxing which drew throngs of fans at Maasin City bus terminal during its first round preliminaries.