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Ding Marcelo

Tabuena shoots 73, is behind by 10 shots

Miguel Tabuena could not have dreamed of a better start. He was two-under-par after five holes and was poised for a sizzling first round finish – if only he could hold his nerves. Then came the back nine and it all unraveled for the 21-year-old Philippine hope in the Rio Olympics golf competition which started yesterday at the Olympic Golf Club. Tabuena was able to buy one more birdie but he had five bogeys in the last nine holes and finished two over par 73. That put him in a tie for 42nd place in the 60-man field, 10 strokes behind the leader and a mountain to climb to get into contention. But the man is not losing hope and he delivered some fighting words. “I won’t give up for you guys,” he said in …

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Swimmer sinks, but team stays optimistic

Another Filipino athlete went down with hardly a whimper Wednesday when swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi, competing in the women’s 100m freestyle, finished 33rd among 46 entries at the Rio Olympics. Alkhaldi, who also competed in the London Games in 2012, barely improved during the four years between the two Olympiads. In Rio, she clocked 56.30 seconds. In London she timed 57.13 seconds that landed her 34th among 50 entries. Her best time, which is a Philippine record, is 56.10 seconds. Besides the 100m free, she also holds the national record in the 50m and 200m frreestyle. Alkhaldi found her experience uplifting though. She said she totally enjoyed swimming against the best. Assessing her performance, Alkhaldi  appeared satisfied with her 33rd overall finish although she said she would have been happier with a faster time. “Overall …

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ABAP head Ricky Vargas sets an example

Sometimes we get surprises from out of the blue in Philippine sports. No, I am not talking about Hidilyn Diaz’s silver medal in the Rio Olympics, which, by the way, was a total surprise. The big surprise came not from Diaz but from Ricky Vargas, the president of the ABAP or the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines. Vargas announced his resignation as head of ABAP hours after the last of two Filipino boxers bowed out of the Rio Olympics. That to me is a gold medal performance. He is the kind of sports leader other officials should emulate. He admitted his failure as head of the boxing association saying he did all he could to win the country an Olympic medal. If bribing boxing judges were allowed, he probably would have …

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Big welcome for Diaz today

Hidilyn Diaz bid her teammates goodbye Tuesday as she left for Manila where she is expected to get today a welcome she never dreamed of when she left the country more than a week ago as an athlete practically unknown and unheralded. But after breaking the country’s 20-year medal drought in the Olympics by winning the silver in the women’s 53 kg weightlifting event, Diaz will come home as a household name,  a parade waiting for her in Zamboanga City and at least P5 million in windfall plus a house and lot as a result of her feat. She is also likely to get an audience with President Duterte soon after her arrival. Her trip will take 25 hours, enough time for her to let her achievement sink in, which include being the …

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Ladon, PH’s medal hope, exits

The country’s last hope in boxing, Rogen Ladon, left the Rio Olympics a beaten man Monday after losing by unanimous decision to Colombia’s rangy fighter Yurbergen Herney Martinez at the Riocentro Pavillion. A day after the uplifting achievement of Hidilyn Diaz who ended the country’s 20-year medal drought by capturing the silver in the women’s 53 kilogram weightlifting contest, Ladon could not draw inspiration from Diaz’s breakthrough moment and lost all three rounds to the Colombian Even Diaz’s encouragement for the remaining athletes to give everything they have had no effect on Ladon who looked like, well, an amateur despite long months of training and buildup. Ladon had all sorts of alibis for the loss, ranging from lack of sleep, too much excitement and being overwhelmed by the occasion. “Masyado ako na-excite,” said Ladon …

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Diaz lifts PH to new heights

Hidilyn Diaz was already shedding tears of joy knowing that she had the bronze medal secured in the women’s weightlifting 53 kg. division during the last moments of competition at the Riocentro Pavillion on Sunday. But what followed next was short of surreal as a Chinese lifter bound for a gold medal finish failed on her three attempts at the clean and jerk. That took her out of the medal race and turned Diaz’s bronze into a silver medal. Near pandemonium broke out among the small crowd of Filipino supporters. They hugged each other, some cried as Diaz pulled off what will be regarded as one of the biggest surprises in the history of Philippine sports. When the dust settled, Diaz had made history by becoming the first Filipino female athlete to …

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Boxer leads losers in Rio

A stunning setback in boxing sent the Philippine Olympic team reeling on the first day of its campaign in the Rio Olympics which also saw two other Filipino athletes fail miserably in their outings on Saturday held at the Riocentro Pavillion. Boxer Charly Suarez, fighting in the lightweight division, though gave a good account of himself before dropping a close 2-1 score against Britain’s Joseph Cordina, who survived largely through a third judge who gave him the maximum 10 in each of the three rounds. Swimmer Jessie Lacuna practically drowned in the waves of his rivals, finishing 46th among 50 swimmers in the 400m freestyle, while table tennis qualifier Ian Lariba lost 4-0 to the Congo’s naturalized Chinese player, Han Xing, in their best-of-seven encounter. Suarez, 24, stood his ground against the taller …

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Saso’s Women’s Amateur dream run ends vs Carta

Yuka Saso’s dream run in the US Women’s Amateur Championship ended on a fighting note Saturday when she fell 2 and 1 to Virginia Elena Carta of Italy, the reigning US NCAA individual champion, in the semifinals at the Rolling Green Golf Club in Pennsylvania. Saso, the youngest player in the match play phase at 15, led early in the game but could not recover against Carta, 19, after the Italian tied the game with a par on the ninth and then moved ahead with another par on the 10th. A spectacular par from the bunker by Saso on the 12th that squared the match nearly rattled Carta. But Carta stormed back with par against a bogey on the 14th from the Fil-Japanese to take the lead for good. Carta sealed the deal …

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Saso reaches semis in US Women’s Amateur

The Philippines’ Yuka Saso survived a nerve-wracking quarterfinal duel Friday with Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, winning their match play encounter, 1- up, to advance to the semifinals of the prestigious US Women’s Amateur Championship at Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield, Pennsylvania. Saso, at 15 the youngest player in the field, played with remarkable maturity in posting her fourth match play encounter in this event that has produced many future LPGA stars. “I feel really great,” said Saso. “I’m thankful and I’m looking forward to the next couple days.” She will meet Virginia Elena Carta of Italy, the reigning NCAA individual champion, who beat Maria Torres of Puerto Rico, 3 and 1. The other semifinalists will pit South Korea’s Eun Jeong Seong against Mathilda Cappeliez of France. This will mark the first time since 1910 …

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Why hosting the SEA Games is wrong

How Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez took to the proposal to host the 2019 Southeast Asian Games so gleefully is a mystery. The Philippines’ turn for hosting is in 2021, but Brunei opted out of the 2019 schedule and the Philippine Olympic Committee, without consultation and evaluation, offered to take over. The POC has now asked the government to guarantee it by agreeing to back it up financially. I would think that Ramirez would’ve turned this proposal on its head many times before putting it on President Rodrigo Duterte’s table. The plan, I think, is crazy. Let me count the ways. First, it is just too expensive. It will set us back by at least R100 million of a national sports budget that is as yet nonexistent. Second, it brings no …

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