MANILA — A Filipino-American gymnast stamped her class to win four gold medals in gymnastics as the 2014 Philippine National Games (PNG) formally opened on Friday at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
Elizabeth LeDuc, whose Filipino mother Coney came from Angeles City, Pampanga, dominated the floors, U-bars and beam events for her first three gold medals.
The 17-year-old gymnast from California also emerged champion in the senior division of the women’s artistic gymnastics individual all-around event with aggregate 51.35 points.
Regine Reynoso of Pasig finished second in the WAG’s individual all-around with 44.55 points, including 13.325 to win the gold medal in the vault event.
In the men’s artistic gymnastics division, Fortunato Abad of Quezon City snatched the gold in the individual all-around, ruling the pommel horse and rings events while US-based gymnast Tristan Lopez won the junior’s MAG individual all-around.
Lopez also won two gold medals in high bar and rings while Carlos Edriel Yulo of Manila team had the most number of golds in the second day of gymnastics competition, winning four golds in vault, parallel, pommel and floor exercise events.
Almost 7,000 athletes seeking inclusion in the national pool and the national team will vie for the coveted gold as hostilities in athletics, arnis, baseball, basketball 3-on-3, boxing, chess, cycling, judo, lawn tennis, pencak silat, rugby football, sepak takraw, shooting, volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling and demo sport underwater hockey kick off Saturday.
The tournaments, which will be played in various satellite venues in Metro Manila, Makati, Tagaytay, Batangas, Alabang and Novaliches, will also coincide with the PHILSPADA Games that aims to give the differently-abled athletes to display their wares and talents with regular athletes and will serve as an exposure for them in preparation for international competitions.
“We want everyone to be aware that the PHILSPADA athletes are not discriminated and we want them to feel that they are given equal opportunities along with the regular athletes,” said Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Jolly Gomez.
A total of 54 sports will be played in this year’s staging of the grassroots development program of the PSC also supported by the Philippine Olympic Committee, including the demo sports in both regular and PHILSPADA events.
Additional sports like underwater hockey, goalball, cheerdance, bridge and wheelchair dancesports, will also highlight the open tournaments for the different national sports associations.
The PSC commissioner also said that they are excited to have the centerpiece athletics events debut in the refurbished Philsports Track and Field in Pasig City.
“We have completed the construction of facilities at the Philsports track oval, so we are expecting more records to be broken there,” Gomez said.
Leading the lineup in centerpiece athletics will be Eric Cray, the SEA Games 400m hurdles champion who has a best time of 50.46.
Cray will also be aiming to break the Philippine record in the century dash set by Ralph Waldy Soguilon (10.45) in 2007.
He will also be joining a strong relay team with Henry Dagmil, Noli Torres and Archand Bagsit as they aim to break the 40.55 national record marked in the 2005 SEA Games by Soguilon, Villarube, Dagmil and Salcedo.
Other Fil-Americans to watch out for in the track events are Princess Joy Griffey in the women’s 100 and 200m dash, Donovant Grant Ariola (El Paso, Texas) in the men’s long jump and Tyler Ruiz (Los Angeles) in high jump events.
Griffey is the daughter of former national junior sprinter Leah Nolido and was born in Bacolod, but grew up in Washington. Griffey is the 2nd fastest Filipina sprinter in both the 100 and 200m after national record holder Lydia De Vega (11.28 & 23.35).
Ariola, meanwhile, has a personal best of 7.53m (2013) and 7.30m in 2014.
Tyler, on the other hand, has a best leap of 2.17m (2013) before gaining Filipino dual citizenship. He has leaped 2.11m so far this year.
The national record is held by now national coach Sean Guevarra at 2.17m.
Athletics also attracted athletes from Malaysia and Singapore, among them are Jamal Amirudin of Singapore and Eddie Edwards of Malaysia.