NCR bet scores rare sprint triple in Palaro

By Joey Villar, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 09 2014 04:32 PM | Updated as of May 10 2014 12:32 AM

STA. CRUZ, Laguna, Philippines – National Capital Region sprinter Jomar Udtohan added the 400-meter run to his collection of sterling achievements, resetting the 17-year-old mark in the event after record runs in the 100m and 200m in yesterday’s Palarong Pambansa at the Laguna Sports Complex here yesterday.

Udtohan was just nine months old when Rene Boy Tanuan of Southern Tagalog established a new norm in the 400-meter run in the 1997 Palarong Pambansa in Naga.

A day after scoring a sprint double to become the Palaro’s swiftest runner, the reed-thin Udtohan from San Rafael, Bulacan clocked 48.7 seconds to erase the decades-long record of 49.4 seconds posted by Tanuan.

Diminutive but big-hearted tanker Imee Joyce Saavedra shared the day’s honors with a record swim in the 400m freestyle mark while helping the NCR elementary girls team that included Samantha Coronel, Jesreel Francisco and Jules Ong erase the 200m medley relay mark twice in the day.

Saavedra, a petite 12-year-old lass who transferred to Diliman Preparatory School from a humble family in Zamboanga, timed in 4:51.83 to slash Catherine Bondad’s three-year-old record of 4:54.55 in Tarlac.

She also helped her NCR squad break the 200m medley relay marks two times, first in the heats when they clocked 2:02.68, obliterating the three-year mark of 2:02.88 also owned by NCR in Dapitan before establishing a new mark of 1:59.85 in the finals. She hiked her total to four golds and five record-breaking feats.

Another Big City bet, Jaime Immanuela Mejia, and Cagayan Valley’s Nicop Gangan tried to put up a fight with strong starts but both ended up getting burned by the torrid pace set up by Udtohan. They finished with a silver and a bronze in 49.8 and 50.3, respectively.

It was Udtohan’s third record-breaker after he toppled the 16-year-old 200m mark of 22.19 and century dash record of 10.9 both owned by Ronald Calaunan of Cagayan Valley in Bacolod City with clockings of 22.0 and 10.8, respectively.

Udtohan exceeded the 200m record in the Wednesday morning heats and will be eyeing a third gold in today’s finale to officially validate his status as the weeklong games’ fastest athlete.

He is also expected to spearhead NCR’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams on the last day in centerpiece athletics.

“Maganda kundisyon ko (I’m in good condition),” said Udtohan, who is expected to get invitation from the Phl Sports Commission to try out for a spot in the national team during the Phl National Games in Manila late this month.

“He (Udtohan) deserves all these because he’s good kid,” said Udtohan’s San Sebastian coach Joselito Gando.

Udtohan’s record-demolishing spree was just half of the records that fell in track and field as Central Luzon’s Bryan Pacheco broke marks in shotput and javelin and Western Visayas’ Alexis Soqueno eclipsed the 12-year-old high jump record.