Alegarbes scores record-breaking golden double in ASEAN Para Games

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2022 04:33 PM | Updated as of Aug 02 2022 08:15 PM

Ariel Joseph Alegarbes proudly displays the two gold medals he won in the swimming competition of the 11th ASEAN Para Games in Semarang, Indonesia. Handout
Ariel Joseph Alegarbes proudly displays the two gold medals he won in the swimming competition of the 11th ASEAN Para Games in Semarang, Indonesia. Handout

(UPDATED) Ariel Joseph Alegarbes made a splashing debut in the 11th ASEAN Para Games Tuesday, capturing two golds in record-breaking style at the Jatidiri Sports Complex pool in Semarang.

Sharing the spotlight were the Filipino para chessers, who were in a class of their own in delivering 4 gold medals courtesy of a sweep of the men’s individual and team in the standard events of the P1 and VI B2-B3 categories, respectively, at the Lor-in Hotel in Surakarta.

FIDE Master Sander Severino and Menandro Redor reigned supreme in the men’s individual P1 and VI B2-B3 divisions, respectively, while anchoring their separate teams to victory in joining the ranks of Alegarbes as the country’s double gold medalists.

Severino defeated compatriot Henry Roger Lopez for the individual gold in the P1 class, while Redor led a 1-2-3 finish in the VI B2-B3 division with Arman Subaste and Darry Bernardo taking the silver and bronze, respectively. 

The trio of Severino, Lopez and Jasper Rom romped off with the men’s team P1 gold, while Redor, Subaste and Bernardo were the top squad in the VI B2-B3 class in a dominant show that netted them four mints.

In front of a lean yet jubilant Filipino crowd, Alegarbes had an unforgettable outing in ruling the men’s 100-meter backstroke S14 event in thrilling fashion, surging in the last 10 meters to win the race by a touch in 1 minute and 3.01 seconds. 

He nipped Malaysia’s Muhammad Imaan Aiman, who had wrested the lead at the 75-meter mark but lost steam and settled for silver in 1:03.20. Thailand’s Mrjirachot Chuvong was a distant third and took the bronze medal (1:11.68). 

Later, the 18-year-old Victoria, Negros Oriental pride was back at the pool, this time leading from start to finish in handily winning the men’s 50-butterfly S14 in 26.43 seconds, completing a golden double in his rookie stint in the biennial meet. 

On top of being the country’s first double gold medalist in the meet, Alegarbes established new meet records in both events.

He first broke the 5-year-old mark of 1:03.60 in the 100-meter backstroke set by Indonesia’s Muhammad in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur ASEAN Para Games. 

He also broke by nearly 4 seconds the joint record of 30.01 seconds held by Malaysian W.Y. Chung and Indonesian D. Nugruho also set in the same Games held in the Malaysian capital. 

“I feel like I am about to explode because I was not expecting this. This is for my father who led me into swimming. Without him I wouldn’t be here,” said Alegarbes, who suffers from ADHD with a learning disability with dyslexia, while handing both mints to his delighted father Abner.

“Of course, I am very proud of my son, and I am glad to witness his accomplishment,” said the elder Alegarbes, who left his work as a construction worker to look after his son after learning of his son’s physical challenge at an early age through the advice of his late psychologist brother.

Alegarbes’s success was a brilliant follow-up to his winning 1 gold and 1 silver medal in the 100-meter butterfly S14 and 100-meter backstroke S14, respectively, in the Asian Youth Para Games held in Manama, Bahrain last December. 

Veteran Ernie Gawilan, who won the men’s 400-meter freestyle S7 event on Tuesday, settled for silver in the men’s 100-meter backstroke S7 in 1:21.13 for the other swimming medal of the day. 

The country’s track and field team likewise continued to have a productive campaign Tuesday morning at the Manahan Stadium. Newcomer King James Reyes and veteran thrower Jesebel Tordecilla boosted the athletic haul to 4 gold medals. 

Reyes topped the men’s 5,000-meter race T46 event, his time pending confirmation from meet officials, while Tordecilla took the gold with her heave of 14.21 meters on her third attempt. 

A gold medalist in the women’s javelin throw T54 last Monday, Cendy Asusano added a bronze to her collection in the women’s discus throw, which was the same medals won by Ron Russel Mitra and Evaristo Carbonel in the men’s long jump T20 and men’s discus throw F11-13, respectively. 

With the production of chess, swimming, and athletics combined for the day, the Philippine para-athletes had 13 gold, 11 silver, and 20 bronze medals as they pressed to eclipse the tally of 20 golds, 20 silvers, and 29 bronzes in winding up fifth overall in the Malaysian Games in 2017.