STA. CRUZ, Laguna, Philippines – Fil-Am Caleb Stuart added the discus throw gold to his medal collection, becoming the lone triple gold medal winner in the elite division at the close of the National Open-Invitational Athletics Championships at the Laguna Sports Complex here yesterday.
Stuart, 24, handily took the discus gold with a heave of 48.17 meters, besting Team Rio’s Joel Santamina and Jose Rizal’s John Albert Mantua, who registered 40.87m and 39.10m for silver and bronze medals, respectively.
It was the third gold for the 6-2, 250-pound Stuart after blowing away the filed in shot put and hammer throw right in the inaugurals of the annual event last Thursday where he officially booked a spot for the national team bound for the 28th Southeast Asian Games set June 5-19 in Singapore.
Stuart, however, stressed there’s still a room for improvement.
“I’m happy that I won all my three events but I’m not satisfied with my performance,” said Stuart, a former University of California-Riverside standout who was accompanied by his Filipina mother Rowena Pineda-Stuart and American father John Stuart.
Truly, Stuart failed to surpass his personal bests in all three events.
His 64.81m effort in hammer throw, his pet event, was short of his personal best 64.81m, which obliterated his old personal best of 67.24m, the current Southeast Asian Games record of 62.23m by Thai Tantipong Petchaiya and the long national mark of 61.69m by Arniel Ferrera.
Stuart also proved to be a little bit off in shot put where he made a 16.52m throw, a far cry from his personal best of 17.88m, the SEAG record of 17.64m by another Thai Thawin Khachin and the national mark of 16.74m by Eliezer Sunang.
In discus throw, he also failed to surpass his personal best of 49.98m.
But he vowed to make amends in the SEAG where he is eyeing no less than two golds.
“I will return to the US and spend the next few months leading to the SEA Games to train with my coach,” said Stuart referring to hammer throw specialist Shaun McGinney.
“Hopefully by that time I’ll be 100-percent ready to win those two gold medals I’m aiming for,” he added.
Ernest John Obiena, meanwhile, dominated the men’s pole vault, clinching the gold with a 5.00m flat effort, beating Leyte Sports Academy-Perpetual Help’s Johnrey Mabuyao (4.30m) and his father, former SEAG gold medal winner Emerson Obiena (4.20m).
The 19-year-old Obiena went for the national record of 5.21m he posted in the weekly relays late last year but the UST standout failed to hurdle the bar in three tries. He, however, complained of a soft pole and wet tracks caused by heavy morning rains.
“If I had a stiffer, longer pole, I would have broken the record,” said Obiena.
Cristy Ann Subaste of TMS Ship Agencies clocked 2:44:17.64 to cop the women’s 20,000-m walk ahead of Team Titus’ Jacqueline Tanawit (2:49:53.72) and Melinda delos Reyes (2:16:13.12).
In women’s discus throw, University of Santo Tomas’ Jessah Fernandez reigned supreme in 33.55m, besting Kabankalan’s Devy Isda (32.66m) and Air Force’s Kenneth Grace Ferrera (27.54m).
National team mainstay Archand Christian Bagsit took the 200m gold in 21.72 seconds to add to his 400m triumph the day before.
Like Bagsit, Mervin Guarte, a silver medal winner in the 2013 Myanmar SEAG, won the 1500m mint in 3:54.58 ahead of Sonny Wahdos (3:55.72) and PLDT’s Rudyfer Hernandez (3:58.47).
Rosie Villarito also made her presence felt by ruling javelin in 46.60m, beating Fare Eastern University’s Evalyn Palabrica (43.95m) and Army’s Geralyn Amandoron (37.04m).
Fil-Am Marissa Smith captured her first gold in 1500-m in 4:59.05 but it wasn’t enough to book her a spot in the SEAG.
Meanwhile, host Gov. Ramil Hernandez and track and field chief Philip Ella Juico graced the closing rites of the event organized by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association and Philippine Sports Commission and backed by Laguna Water, Pacific Online Scratch It KaskaSwerte, Papa John’s Pizza, Foton Philippines, PCSO, Smart, PLDT, Summit Natural Drinking Water and supported by SSS, Pagcor, Milo, Gatorade, L Time Studio and Asics Watch.
Leyte Sports Academy’s Karen Janario teamed up with Feiza Jane Lenton, Rosemarie Olorvida and Remabel Rosello seized the 4x400m gold in 4:07.30 to emerge the best performing athlete in the girls’ division.
Janario, a multiple gold medal winner in the Palarong Pambansa and Batang Pinoy, also won in the 200m and 400m and the 100m hurdles.
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