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SPORTS YEARENDER: Pacquiao leads Heroes of ?09


PhilBoxing.com




Another tumultuous year came to pass but thanks to the Filipino athletes? resolve, resiliency and commitment to make good, they kept the national colors flying in the sports capitals of the world and made Year 2009 something Philippine sports should thank for.

Emerging from the rubbles of seemingly unending feud between leaders of the Philippine Olympic Committee on the one hand and Philippine Commission on the other, were heroes who defied the odds to keep the country?s pride intact in the world and regional level competitions.

Professional boxers Manny Paquiao and his peers in the sweet science ? Nonito Donaire Jr., Brian Viloria, Bernabe Conception, Donnie Nietes and Marvin Sonsona did not have to suffer their amateur counterparts had to put up with, winning one title after another atop the square ring and earning fortunes for themselves.

Ditto for Ana Julaton,a Filipino-American fighter who became the first from this shore to win not only one, but two world boxing crowns.

While the POC hierarchy, headed by former Tarlac Congressman Jose ?Peping?: Cojuangco, and the PSC high priest, another former solon from Manila Harry Angping continued fighting for who had the authority to form the national delegation to the 25th Southeast Asian Games, the 251-athlete RP contingent proceeded to the premier Laotian City of Vientiane, brought home 38 and wound up fifth overall, improving on the Philippines? worst sixth two years ago in Thailand.

That made up for the embarrassments the country suffer when the delegation reached the Games? site in two groups ? one recognized by the PSC and the other by the POC ? as well as the shame brought about by the barring of the entire cycling team from participation for lack of credentials from the International Cycling Union.

Adding salt to the wound was the POC?s decision to also withdraw defending road champion Marites Bitbit from the cycling hostilities despite being the only one licensed b y the UCI take part.

Besides the Laos SEA Games campaigners? modest achievements, other Filipinos shone on other international fronts as chess Grandmaster Wesley So, long jumper Maristella Torres, four-time Bowling World Cup winner Paeng Nepomuceno, golfer Dottie Ardina, cue artist Rubilen Amit and the Philippine Davis Cup and taekwondo teams.

Pacquiao fought only twice and won both over British Ricky Hatton and Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto to add the junior-welterweight and welterweight belts to his already rich collection of five at the start of the year, the first man ever to own seven titles in as many divisions.

Donaire kept his International Boxing Federation flyweight diadem early in the year and later add the interim World Boxing Association super-flyweight crown to his cabinet, while Viloria took the IBF light-flyweight crown that more than made up for the loss of the World Boxing Council version of the same category a few years back.
Concepcion, likewise, remained the WBC international featherweight titleholder and Nietes the World Boxing Organization minimumweight titlist. Sonsona became the youngest Filipino to win a world crown ? the WBO super-flyweight ? but lost it as fast via forfeiture when he failed to make the weight limit in his first defense.

Miguel Molina, the 2007 Thailand SEA Games most-bemedalled athlete who was adjudged the Most Outstanding Male Athlete, led the Filipinos? Laos Games surge with a pair of gold medals although the swimming team fell four gold medals short of the eight they scoop up two years ago.
Joining Molina, who topped the 200 and 400 individual medley, in the victory podium in swimming are Ryan Arabejo in the 1500 freestyle and Daniel Coackley in the 50 freestyle.

Athletics though, led by Torres? record-breaking feat in long jump, emerged the winningest team bringing home seven from five in 2007 with Rene Herrera ruling the 30000 steeplechase, Arniel Ferrera the hammer throw, Rosie Villarito women?s javelin, Danilo Fresnido men?s javelin, Eduardo Buenavista and Jho-An Banayag the men?s and women?s marathon.
The powerhouse boxing squad came in second with five gold medals courtesy of women fighters Josie Gabuco, a pinweight, light-fly Alice Kate Aparri and flyweight Annie Albania and men?s teammates, pinweight Bill Vicera and featherweight Charly Suarez.

Taekwondo also had four through the efforts of two-time Olympians Tsomlee Go in the featherweight category and Toni Rivero in women?s welterweight and Alexander Briones in men?s heavyweight and the trio of Carla Lagman, Rani Ann Ortega and Francesca Alarilla in the team competition of new event poomsae.
Wrestling managed three gold medals by Margarito Angana in the 55-kilogram Greco Roman, Jimmy Angana in 60-kg. and Jason Balabal in the 74-kg., feats duplicated by pool aces Amit, who ruled the 8-ball and 9-ball pool singles, and Ronnie Alcano in the men?s 8-ball singles.

Judoka John Baylon as expected pocketed his ninth straight gold-medal in the over 73-kg. division of judo and along with Nancy Quillones gifted their team a pair of victories, the same output submitted by tennisters Cecil Mamiit and Treat Hueywushu artists Mariane Mariano and Mark Eddiva and golfers Chichiro Ikeda, the individual winner who also help the women ?s team win the team event.

Shooter Tac Padilla, a veteran of 16 Sea Games appearance, ended a long gold-medal draught by ruling his favorite rapid fire pistol event that was matched by Zaidi Laruan in muay, karateka Marna Pabillore and archer Jennifer Chan.
Earlier in the year, Torres ended the country?s gold-medal draught in athletics by winning, too, the women?s long jump in the Asian Athletic Association championships, while Amit the world women?s 9-ball crown.

(Eddie G. Alinea?s articles also appear in the Philippine Gazette. Photo of R.P. Women?s boxing team below courtesy of the author)




Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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