ILAGAN CITY – Hometown kid Hokket Delos Santos made sure to deliver in front of his Isabelaños, winning the country’s third gold medal to end the 14th Southeast Asian Youth Athletics Championships with a bang Sunday afternoon here at the Ilagan City Sports Complex.
The 16-year-old Ilagan City pride leaped for 4.20 meters in the boys’ pole vault to prevail over Singaporeans Wee Junn Elliott (4.10m) and Heng Jee Kuan (3.80), who settled for silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Delos Santos’ victory came as a surprise as it was his first international stint in pole vault, being a basketball varsity player first for in Sta. Barbara National High School.
“Hindi ko po inasahan kasi bago lang po ako sa sport pero sobrang saya po,” said the 5’11” athlete.
Meanwhile, high jumper Mariel Abuan gifted the Philippines its second gold earlier.
The 14-year-old Abuan, who hails from Zambales, cleared the high jump bar by 1.65 meters to rule the girls’ event in the face of strong opposition from Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore.
The Vietnamese pair of Thanh Vy Nguyen and Quynh Giang Pham settled for the silver and bronze medals, respectively, with 1.61 and 1.58 meters.
A first timer in the international games, Abuan said that the challenge from heavy favorites pushed her to surpass do her best following a meager one-gold medal tally in the SEA Youth Games opener on Saturday.
“Challenging po pero masaya at na-enjoy ko po. Medyo kinabahan ako kasi matatangkad ‘yung kalaban,” said the 14-year-old Botolan National High School student. “Nilakasan ko lang po loob ko at sabi ko sa isip ko, kakayanin ko ito. Natupad naman po at naka-represent at nakapagbigay ng karangalan sa Philippines.”
Maria Lhrizzie Clarisse Ruzol won the country’s first mint the previous day in the girls’ pole vault.
Also a national champion in Batang Pinoy, Abuan now has two medals in her bag after winning a bronze in the girls’ 4×400 relay Saturday.
Meanwhile, Tina Rosete threw 26.83 meters in the girls’ hammer throw to secure the silver medal behind Indonesian winner Natasya Mahdalita, who tallied a whopping 47.38 meters.
Charlaine De Ocampo bagged a bronze medal in the girls’ 400m hurdles with a time of 65.22 seconds.
Palarong Pambansa and Batang Pinoy standouts Jason Habol (200 m) and Tara Borlain (1, 500 m) could have at least added to the country’s medal tally, but they barely missed out on the podium with fourth-place finishes.
With this, the Philippines now has two gold, six silver and seven bronze medals for fourth place in the biennial youth athletic conclave as of press time.
It was a slight improvement from the host nation after a 0-1-3 haul for a seventh place finish in last year’s SEA Youth Games held at the Thailand capital.
On the other hand, Southeast Asian powerhouse Thailand flaunted its force anew with a 12-5-4 gold-silver-bronze tally to win the overall title.
Vietnam (6-9-7) and Malaysia (4-3-1) placed second and third, respectively.