Chess capped the Philippine campaign in the 11th ASEAN Para Games on a golden note Friday with a sweep of the men’s B2-B3 and women’s PI individual and team blitz events, respectively, at the Lo-rin Hotel in Surakarta, Indonesia.
Darry Bernardo took the individual gold while anchoring the squad that also included Menandro Redor and Arman Subaste in the men’s B2-B3 category,while Cheyzer Mendoza did the same in teaming up with Cheryl Angot and Jean-LeeNacita in the women’s PI class.
Slipping through the Filipinos’ fingers were the two mints at stake in the men’s PI blitz event as FIDE Master Sander Severino wound up with an individual silver while his partners Henry Mendoza and Felix Aguilera also took team runner-up honors.
Nonetheless, Severino emerged as the country’s most bemedalled athlete with four gold and two silvers in the 11-nation sportsfest in the stint supported by the Philippine Sports Commission.
With the 4 gold, 2 silvers, and 1 bronze medal that the PH chessers bagged, the country likewise had its all-time best outing in the regional Games with 28 gold, 28 silver and 44 bronze medals, eclipsing the 20-20-29 tally in placing fifth overall in the 2017 Malaysian edition.
The performance also exceeded the previous best of the country of 24-24-26 in the 2009 meet also held in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
This recent performance ought to be good for fourth overall, which, however, was still not reflected in the official APG website as of 6 p.m. (7 p.m. in Manila), with the Philippines still lodged in fifth place at 23-24-40 behind Malaysia at 28-15-8. As expected, Indonesia was on top of the heap with a whopping tally of 134-102-94, Thailand second (92-88-63) and Vietnam third (57-49-40).
Earlier, swimming sustained its winning drive by adding three more golds, with rookie Ariel Joseph Alegarbes completing a sweep of his three events in another meet record in the 11th ASEAN Para Games at the Jatadiri Sports Complex in Semarang. Alegarbes took off like a torpedo in ruling the men’s 50-meter freestyle S14 race in 25.74 seconds in securing his third straight gold medal, duplicating the feat of female teammate Angel Otom last Thursday in the stint supported by the Philippine Sports Commission.
Fellow newcomer Marco Tinamisan sustained his sweet performance with his second straight gold medal while Gary Bejino finally scored a breakthrough after two runner-up finishes in capturing his first gold in the swimming competition.
Tinamisan bagged the gold in the men’s 100-meter freestyle S3 event in a winning time of 1:54.15 while Tokyo Paralympic veteran Bejino ruled the men’s 100-meter freestyle S6 race in 1:13.80 to raise the PH para swimming team’s gold total to 12.
Philippine Paralympic Committee president Mike Barredo, who is back in Manila, credited this sterling showing to the late President Fidel V. Ramos, who had urged Barredo to form the para sports group way back in 1996, which was then known as the Philippine Sports Association of Differently-abled Athletes.
“This is totally unexpected but once again I thank my father Abner for introducing me to swimming so I could overcome my asthma as a young boy,” said Alegarbes, who also won gold and silver medal in the Asian Youth Para Games in Manama, Bahrain last December.
Among those contributing silvers to the Philippine campaign were Marcelo Burgos and Angelo Manangdang, who were seeing action in their first international tournament, in the men’s compound doubles in archery and Andrew Kevin Arandia in the men's singles event Class 9 of table tennis.
Thailand buried the Philippines in a hail of triples on the way to an 87-36 romp in capturing the men's wheelchair 5x5 basketball gold at the GOR Sritex Arena.