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BMX Racing’s a team effort for bronze medalist Patrick Coo (right) and Daniel Caluag.

HANGZHOU — Patrick Coo clinched bronze on Sunday in Chun’an to continue the Philippines medal tradition in BMX racing of cycling in the Asian Games.

Coo’s bronze was the seventh for Team Philippines and it came the morning after Ernest John ‘EJ” Obiena won an expected gold medal in men’s pole vault.

“I’m very happy but hurting for sure,” said the 21-year-old Coo, who scraped the upper part of his right thigh after crashing in the first moto of the 12-cyclist final. “I ripped my pants in the process and got it fixed immediately.”

Japan’s Asuma Nakai, 23, and junior bronze medalist in the UCI world championships last year in Nantes (France) won gold, followed very closely by Southeast Asian Games champion Komet Sukpraset of Thailand and Coo.

With Coo’s bronze, the Philippines had a medal in each of the last three Asian Games—Danny Caluag won the country’s one and only gold medal in Incheon in 2014 and got bronze in Indonesia five years ago.

Caluag, 36, was in the thick of the race but was shoved to sixth place in the final—he raced still recovering from a broken rib he sustained in training in the US.

Coo, an Olympic Solidarity scholar, felt amazing about his stint in Hangzhou.
“I feel very happy, I went straight to the biggest one, the Asian Games,” said Coo as he thanked Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, who heads PhilCycling.

“This could kick off more major accomplishments for Patrick,” Tolentino said. “He’s only 21, so young, and he’s been training seriously and diligently the past year or so under the Olympic Solidarity program.”

Tolentino said cycling has again confirmed its consistency in contributing to a medal in the Asian Games.

“It’s a motivation for PhilCycling to achieve more in the international arena,” he said.

Coo flew in four days ago from Aigle, Switzerland, straight from his UCI World Cycling Center training camp. He had to spend a night in Hangzhou—some 150 km from Chun’an where the cycling competitions are staged—because he was directed to the main Athletes Village instead of a bus to the cycling venue.

His crash in the first moto on Sunday wasn’t anything unique in Coo. He almost always does, but he’s been trying to correct his mistakes.

“I’m fast and everything, but I get so much adrenalin most of the time. I need to take it step by step, by staying calm more on the bike,” he said.

Coo called his parents in the US—Benjamin who’s from Iloilo and Romilyn Lag from Cagayan de Oro minutes after the race.

“They told me to pamper myself when I get back to the Philippines,” said Coo, who stays in Tagaytay City which has the country’s only UCI BMX race track.

“I haven’t eaten rice for the past three months while I was in Switzerland, so time to gorge in Tagaytay,” he said, adding “and a lot of isaw.”


HANGZHOU – After a whirlwind 2023 that catapulted Ernest John Obiena to world no. 2, a silver in the World Athletics Championships, a seat in the Paris Olympics, and a record-smashing Asian Games’ gold, the Filipino superstar pole vaulter has finally earned the right to rest.

“Oh I’m resting,” said Obiena after his record-smashing, history-making performance at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, where he delivered the Philippines’ first and so far only gold in the 19th Asian Games on Saturday night.

When asked if he’s preparing for the Paris Olympics after the games, Obiena aired his determination to rest. “I’m not thinking about it (Olympics) now.”

The 27-year-old Obiena captured the pole vault gold with his record leap of 5.75 meters, which he further smashed at 5.9. He tried to break his own 6.0 meters by setting the bar to 6.02 as a gift to his coach Vitaly Petrov, but couldn’t pull it off in three tries.

Nevertheless, Obiena has accomplished his goal of winning an Asian Games gold, the Philippines’ first in athletics in 37 years since Lydia de Vega’s 100-meter conquest in the Seoul Asiad, and the first athletics medal of any color in 29 years since Elma Muros’ bronze feat in the long jump competitions of the 1994 Hiroshima games

“I’m very happy that he pulled through. I can imagine the pressure on EJ because of all the expectations, but he pulled through. It seemed like a routine for him and it’s a good routine. Parang nagiging mindset na niya to win every tournament he joins,” said athletics’ president Terry Capistrano.

“And that’s very good, let him rest for now, and then after Christmas, we can start thinking of Paris. Again, congratulations to all of us. Hindi naman ako ang tumalon, but I’m very happy. And this is not just about athletics, it’s for our campaign here in general. I hope we win more medals in the other sports. Sana madagdagan pa ang gold natin or the silver or the bronze,” Capistrano added.

Obiena joined the exclusive 6-meter club at the Sparebanken Vest Bergen Jump Challenge in Norway on June 10, 2023.

A month later, Obiena became the first Filipino to qualify for the 2024 Olympics after clearing the Olympic standard of 5.82 meters at the Bauhaus Galan in Stockholm, Sweden.

Other highlights of Obiena’s busy 2023 include a title in the Cambodia SEA Games; the Müller Indoor Grand Prix Birmingham crown with his 5.82 meters; the Orlen Copernicus Cup Torun gold with his 5.91 meters; the World Athletics Championships, where he bagged the silver medal with a clearance of 5.94 meters; and the European Athletics Championships, where he finished fourth in the final, clearing 5.85 meters.


HANGZHOU – Barring any unforeseen circumstance, Asia’s best pole vaulter and Filipino superstar Ernest John Obiena is expected to deliver the Philippines’ first gold medal in the 19th Asian Games here on Saturday.

Obiena, the overwhelming favorite to win the pole vault gold in the Asiad, is expected to obliterate the opposition in the event slated at 7:05 p.m. at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre.

“My aim is to win (in Hangzhou). That’s the goal,” said Obiena in a previous interview.

The 27-year-old Obiena, who regained the no. 2 rank in the world following his runner-up finish to world champion Arman “Mondo” Duplantis in the 2023 Diamond League in Eugene, Oregon almost two weeks ago, holds the Asian record of 6 meters, he twice achieved in Budapest last August and Norway last June.

Obiena, however, doesn’t own the Asian Games record. That distinction belongs to Japanese Seito Yamamoto, who leaped to a height of 5.75 meters during the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games.

The Filipino pole vaulter, who was recovering from an ACL injury at that time, placed only 7th in that edition as he struggled to find any rhythm of sorts. He went on to leap just 5.45 meters.

Obiena will be aiming for payback against the 31-year-old Yamamoto, who according to Japan Running News, will be having another tour of duty for Japan in the Asiad.

Yamamoto’s best showing this season, however, is just 5.60 he did in the L’Anneau-Halle d’athlétisme de Metz in France last February. Yamamoto plus three Chinese pole vaulters will be in the field.

“This is the opportunity for us Filipino athletes to show what we’ve got,” said Obiena, who will also have a chance to end a three-decade medal drought by the country in the Asiad, where the last medal from athletics was won by Elma Muros, who bagged the bronze in the women’s long jump event.

“We are determined to contribute to the Philippine Team’s campaign. Our men and women are ready,” said athletics secretary general and team manager Edward Kho.

The only minor concern for Obiena, if it’s a worry at all, is jet lag.

“EJ is recovering from jet lag after arriving a few days ago from a competition in Oregon, USA. But he is a veteran. He will do what he has to do come tomorrow night’s finals in the pole vault,” said athletics chief Terry Capistrano. (ai/mnm)

HANGZHOU, China — Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Richard “Dickie” Bachmann is not yet losing hope, saying that Filipino athletes can still deliver despite their slow start in the 19th Asian Games here.

In a conversation with Filipino sportswriters, Bachmann said he is counting on athletes like EJ Obiena, Alex Eala, Hidilyn Diaz, and the national boxers to come up with a strong performance and jack up the medal tally of Team Philippines.

So far, the Philippines’ official medal count includes four bronze medals courtesy of Patrick King Perez of taekwondo, and wushu bets Jones Inso, Gideon Fred Padua, and Clemente Tabugara Jr.

They, however, suffered disappointment after prized athletes Kayla Sanchez, Margielyn Didal, and Irish Magno failed to deliver.

Sanchez, a two-time Olympic medalist for Canada, has yet to win a single medal entering the last two days of the swimming competition while Didal was dethroned in the women’s street event of the skateboarding competition after suffering a nagging ankle injury.

Magno, a Tokyo Olympian, also fell by the wayside as she bowed to Nigina Ukmatova of Uzbekistan in the Round of 16 of the women’s 54-kilogram event.

Still, Bachmann remains hopeful.

“I’m still hoping,” Bachmann said, adding that they can still surpass their previous achievement of four gold medals in the previous Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.

“I’m still confident that we will beat last year’s medal of four golds. I was with (boxing chairman) Ricky Vargas last night and he told me that they can get at least two (gold) medals. I’m looking at EJ Obiena, I’m looking at Alex Eala and other athletes who can pull off a surprise.”

Obiena, the second-best pole vaulter in the world, is the country’s brightest hope as he is holding the Asian record of 6.0 meters.

Eala is also expected to deliver after breezing through the semifinals of the women’s singles event after posting stunning victories over Sarah Ibrahim Khan of Pakistan and Rutuja Bonsale in the preliminaries and Kyoka Okamura of Japan in the quarterfinals to be assured of a podium finish.

Wushu fighter Arnel Mandal also pulled off a surprise after he clinched the silver medal in the men’s 56-kilogram sanda event on Thursday.

Bachmann, however, made special mention of Diaz and the vaunted weightlifting team featuring rising stars Vanessa Sarno, Rosegie Ramos, and Elreen Ando.

“You still have your weightlifting. Hopefully, they can add,” said Bachmann, who has been busy visiting the athletes and watching their games together with PSC executive director Paulo Tatad.

“What we’re doing now is going around, watching a full game, be it no medal or medal chances. We’re here to show support.” (ai/mnm)

HANGZHOU, China – Sanda fighter Arnel Mandal dropped his final encounter against a favored foe on Thursday, delivering the first silver medal for the Philippines in the 19th Asian Games.

The 27-year-old Mandal unloaded a large quantity of punches in a desperate attempt to knock out China’s Jiang Haidong, but failed to find the target throughout their two-round contest.

Jiang eventually got away with the title, 2-0, in the men’s 56kg category at the Xiaoshan Guali Sports Centre.

“Ginawa ko lahat ng aking makakaya pero hindi ako pinalad,’’ said Mandal, the 2015 World Sanda Championship men’s 52kg titleholder.

There’s no need to be disappointed though. Mandal’s second-place finish is the first for Team Philippines apart from the five bronzes across the medal tally.

Gideon Padua ended his Asiad stint with a bronze in the men’s 60kg after Filipino wushu officials decided not to field him in the semifinals on Wednesday night due to a broken nose bridge.

Padua hurt his nose in an impressive quarterfinal win over Turkmenistan’s Agajumageldi Yazymov on Tuesday night.

“Ayaw namin i-risk pa si Gideon. Bronze na yan at mataas ang probability na matamaan ang injury nya sa mga kasunod na laban,’’ said Wushu Federation of the Philippines President Freddie Jalasco.

Joining Padua on the bronze podium is Clemente Tabugara Jr., who was assured of a medal after downing Kazakhstan’s Abdusamat Ashirov in the men’s 65kg quarterfinals before his run ended against Indonesia’s Samuel Marbun.

The Philippine wushu team wrapped its campaign with one silver and three bronze medals, including the taolu specialist Jones Inso’s medal performance in the men’s taijiquan-taijijian all-round. (ai/mnm)

HANGZHOU — The trajectory arc gets steeper for Gilas Pilipinas as it takes on Southeast Asian Games rival Thailand on Thursday, September 28, in the men’s basketball competition of the 19th Asian Games here.

The game time is at 11 a.m. (Manila time) at the Zhejiang University Zijingang Gymnasium, with the Philippines out for a momentum-building followup to its 89-61 opening victory over Bahrain and former PBA import Wayne Chism at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium last Tuesday.

Thailand, led by ex-UCLA Bruin Tyler, will be looking to rebound, meanwhile, from a 97-63 thrashing at the hands of Jordan and TNT Giga import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson last Tuesday.

Hollis-Jefferson, who will be rejoining TNT for the 2023-2024 PBA season once the Asian Games is over, played 30:06 minutes against the Thais, scoring 20 points on 6 of 15 from the floor with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals.

Gilas head coach Tim Cone was talking about getting his hands on the video of the Jordan-Thailand game even before he had walked off the court after their match against Bahrain.

“We need to break down their game,” said Cone. “We saw them [Thais] in the Southeast Asian Games, but we’re not matched up against them. They were knocked out by Cambodia. So we hope we’ll have a better feel of Thailand than we did. We gotta ‘cause Thailand’s a much stronger team than Bahrain.”

The Philippines won the men’s basketball gold medal in the SEA Games, beating host Cambodia in the final.

As on the eve of the game against Bahrain, Cone presided over a film viewing of the Thailand-Jordan game with spliced clips of the Thais’ top players other than Lamb, who was 3 of 14 from the field, including 2 of 10 beyond the arc. His 2 rebounds were among the lowest for the team.

In his place, 5-foot-8 guard Frederick Lish had 13 points on 6 of 19 from the field but was abysmal from outside, going 1 of 9 in treys.

The Gilas defense is expected to zero in on Thailand’s other licensed perimeter shooters like Nattakarn Muangboon, who was 3 of 7 in triples, and Jakongmee Morgan (7 pts), Naratip Boonserm (6) and Nakom Jaisanuk, all of whom took three treys each or more against Jordan.

The steady improvement as the Games move on is Gilas’ priority mindset, according to Cone.

“We gotta go up the level, we gotta continue to rise in our game ‘cause we’re gonna play a tougher opponent each time out,” he said.

“I mean, from Bahrain to Thailand to Jordan, and perhaps to the next round, whether it be Korea or Japan or whoever, and hopefully to the semis, maybe to the finals, we gotta continue to lift the level of our game, that’s important.”

A one-and-a-half-hour practice was scheduled at 1 p.m.

After Thailand, Gilas faces Jordan on September 30 at 5:30 p.m.

“Jordan is a much, much, much better team than Thailand,” said Cone when asked to rate Gilas’ preliminary-round opponents. (ai/mnm)

HANGZHOU, China — Joanie Delgaco aims to make history when she competes in the final of the women’s single sculls event of the 19th Asian Games on Monday at the Fuyang Water Sports Center here.

Delgaco, 25, will be coming as an underdog in the race that starts at 9:10 a.m. as she battles a formidable cast of competitors bannered by a seasoned Uzbek who won the silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics last year.

Anna Prakaten, who was born in Bulgaria played for Russia and is now competing for Uzbekistan, is heavily favored after topping the semifinals in seven minutes and 47.88 seconds, way far from the 8:18.30 that Delgaco clocked to qualify in the medal round.

Also in the field are Shino Yonekawa of Japan, Liu Ruiqi of China, Leung Wing Wun of Hong Kong and Huang Yi Ting of Chinese Taipei.

If luck rolls Delgaco’s way, it’s going to be the Filipinos’ first ever gold medal in the rowing competition of this prestigious continental tourney.

It’s also going to be their first medal since Alvin Amposta and Nestor Cordova clinched a bronze medal in the men’s lightweight doubles sculls in the Busan edition of the Asiad in 2002.

Philippine Rowing Association President Patrick Gregorio admitted that the battle will not be easy but she expects that Delgaco would go all out to make history.

“I’m very happy that Joanie is in the finals. She is the only Southeast Asian rower in the finals tomorrow,” Gregorio, who will be at the stands when Delgaco sees action, said.

“It’s going to be tough competition against No. 1 seed Uzbekistan, then China, Japan, and Chinese Taipei. Joanie will be racing in Lane 2 with the No. 1 seed. Hopefully, she outperforms herself.”

Gregorio admitted that the Uzbek will be a tough nut to crack but there is a chance that Delgaco, the pride of Bicol, will pull off an earth-shaking upset.

“Joanie’s personal best is 7:39, which she did last week in training at the La Mesa Dam,” Gregorio said.

“If she duplicates it, she has a good chance of pulling an upset.”
Also seeing action on the final day of hostilities will be Tokyo Olympics veteran Cris Nievarez.

Nievarez will be competing in the Final B of the men’s single sculls event at 9:20 a.m. to determine his final standing in this tournament.

INTERIM head coach of Gilas Pilipinas, Tim Cone, has announced replacements for four players who have been omitted from the lineup for the upcoming Asian Games scheduled to commence on September 23 in Hangzhou, China.

During a press briefing held on Tuesday alongside officials from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), Cone revealed that Chris Ross, Kevin Alas, Arvin Tolentino, and CJ Perez would step in to replace Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Moala Tautuaa, and Jason Perkins.

Additionally, Marco Lassiter has been added to the team’s roster, while Cone noted that Roger Pogoy would be unavailable due to “serious health reasons.”

Despite calls from netizens urging the Philippines to withdraw from the Asiad, team manager Alfrancis Chua stated that this was not an option.

Chua also mentioned that they would soon release the finalized player list submitted to the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games organizers.

Gilas Pilipinas is coming off an appearance at the FIBA World Cup held in the country, where the national team ended with a disappointing 1-4 win-loss record.