By Jerome Lagunzad
ILAGAN CITY – Proving why he’s regarded as a Kenyan-like runner by his contemporaries, Philippine Army’s Richard Salaño stamped his class in the men’s 10,000-meter run on Friday morning for his second gold medal in the 2018 Ayala Philippine Athletics Championships at the City of Ilagan Sports Complex here.
In a fitting sequel to his stunning 3000m steeplechase victory last Thursday, the diminutive private first class from Marilao, Bulacan showed no signs of slowing down, leading from start to finish on the way to winning the event in 32 minutes and 30.67 seconds.
“This is my pet event and I really trained hard for two months in Baguio City for this,” said the 5-foot-4 Salaño. “I really wanted to repay the trust given to me by my commanding officer Col. Antonio John Divinagracia. All his support and my sacrifices are worth it.”
Unheralded Erwin Generalao finished a distant second at 33 minutes and 48.48 seconds while fellow Baguio City bet Cesar Castaneto wound up third in 34 minutes and 32.05 seconds as they clearly struggled to keep in step with Salaño, 27, who’s been the biggest revelation in the five-day trackfest thus far.
“I really don’t know why they’re considering me as a son of a Kenyan. Even my Japanese rival in the Jeju half marathon (in South Korea over the weekend) thought I am a Kenyan. Maybe because I am with those Kenyan runners most of the time,” said Salaño, tongue-in-cheek.
Turning serious, the former University of the East standout admitted he’s still far from done since he’s determined to complete a golden treble in the men’s 5,000m on Monday.
Also emerging as the double gold medal winner so far was Dasmariñas City’s Eliza Cuyom, who did her part in helping Dasmariñas City claim the girls’ 4x100m relay title in 49.49 seconds. Cuyom’s initial gold came at the 100m hurdles in the opener.
Meanwhile, the fancied 4x100m relay team of national team stars Eric Cray, Trent Beram, Anfernee Lopena and Clinton Bautista failed to live up to its billing last Thursday night after being disqualified for dropping the baton.
Lopena got off to a strong start but miscalculated his pass to a speeding Cray, once the fastest man in Southeast Asia, that caused the baton to drop. That paved the way for Team Adamson – Jeric Gaceta, Christian Olivares, Elias Cuevas and Alex Talledo – to clinch the gold in 43.42 seconds.
On Thursday night, Julian Reem Fuentes boosted his bid of making it back to the national team by ruling the men’s long jump with a leap of 7.71m. National team mainstays Janry Ubas (7.63m) and reigning SEA Games decathlon king Aries Toledo (7.47m) settled for silver and bronze medals, respectively.
The Malaysians also started to make their presence felt, with Camelia Jasten topping the women’s 400m run in one minute and 2.03 seconds, and the women’s team of Ikma Duris, Chelsea Evali, Puteri Gajali and Halimatu Saadiah winning the 4x100m relay in 49.61 seconds.
On Day 2 of the annual meet presented by the City of Ilagan and sponsored by Ayala Corporation, Milo and the Philippine Sports Commission, University of the Philippines’ Ma. Elizabeth Capioso topped the women’s 10,000m walk with relativise ease in one hour and seven minutes while Ailene Tolentino continued Army’s dominance by topping the women’s 1500m run in four minutes and 52.55 seconds.