Athletics: Williams, Frank debut with a bang for PH in trackfest

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Mar 22 2023 10:56 PM | Updated as of Mar 23 2023 01:16 PM

Angel Frank drapes the Philippine flag on herself after clinching the gold medal in the women's 400-meter run. 
Angel Frank drapes the Philippine flag on herself after clinching the gold medal in the women's 400-meter run. Rio Deluvio

ILAGAN, Isabela - Competing in her one and only race where virtually everything fell into place.

This was the fortune of US-based runner Angel Frank, who, together with compatriot Umajesty Williams, made an unforgettable maiden performances for the country in the ICTSI Philippine Athletics Championships Wednesday evening at the Ilagan Sports Complex here.

On the eve of her 22nd birthday, Frank began strong and won pulling away in topping the women's 400-meter run in a time of 53.69 seconds while fellow Fiipino-American Danae Manibog, also making her Philippine debut, took the silver 54.73 seconds.

Williams capped a big night for the US-based athletes as he took the men's 400-meter gold in 47:15 seconds, holding off Frederick Ramirez, who settled for runner-up honors in 47.40 seconds.

"To win this gold for the the Philippines in my first race is very significant. This is a dream," Frank, a University of South Carolina varsity athletic mainstay, said.

"This is quite important since the 400 is my only race here and I will be heading back to the US this weekend," added Frank, whose school sees action in the tough NCAA Division 1 Southeastern Conference. 

Williams, 23, who used to suit up for the varsity squad of the University of Arizona, was just as effusive about his own triumph in her mother's country. 

Umajesty Williams on the way to winning the men's 400-meter run. 
Umajesty Williams on the way to winning the men's 400-meter run. 

"This is simply amazing to win in my first race for the Philippines, and hopefully, we can win another tomorrow in the 200," added the athlete, who will be eyeing her for golden double when he competes in the 200-meter run Thursday.

"I am truly grateful for this victory and I would like to thank Patafa former president Dr. Philip Ella Juico in making this all possible," Willliams added.

Williams and Frank had earlier emerged the best in their respective heats of the competition in the morning organized by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association and backed by the Philippine Sports Commission.

Williams was tops in the men's heats in 47.80 seconds while Frank did the same in the women's heats in 55.05 seconds in the first day of action of the meet also backed by CEL Logistics.

Also in the group pooled together by former Barcelona Olympic Games veteran Edward Lasquete, Laurent Hoffman also debuted and nearly pulled off surprise in securig silver in the women's 100-meter hurdles.

In the middle of two top Vietnamese runners, Hoffman looked headed for a win until the last 10 meters when My Thien Huynh Thi, who ran on her left, surged surged past her to take the gold in 13.59 seconds

Vying in the event for the first time in four years, Hoffman clocked 13.72 seconds to relegate Nguyen Bui Thi, the reigning SEA Games 100-meter queen, to the bronze medal (13.83). 

"Although I didn't win the gold medal, I'm still happy because this was my first time to run the event in four years. It gave me such a thrill," said the former Duke varsity track star, who will be back at the oval and will see action in the 400-meter hurdles on Friday. 

Filipino-Spanish John Cabang nipped two-time Southeast Asian Games men's 110-meter hurdles champion Clinton Kingsley Bautista in securing the gold medal in 14.35 seconds to the latter's 14.40.

"Sabi ni coach Dario de Rosas na tumakbo ako para makuha ang tiyempo muli, kaya okay lang," said Bautista, who thought of scratching from the event after the topping heats because it was his first outing in four months.

"First time ko rin makaharap si John kaya alam ko na rin ang gagawin ko sa Cambodia," added the athlete, who was recently released from military training.

Silay native and former national team member Aira Teodosio started the day with the meet's first gold in the women's discus throw with a heave of 38.46 meters on her fifth try.

Host Ilagan bagged gold in the girls under-18 shot through Jecel Lesti, who emerged triumphant with a throw of 8.35 meters.