TOKYO—The quest for gold medals kicked off on the golf course on Wednesday and resumes on the boxing ring on Thursday as the Philippines aims to make the most out of its most fruitful Olympic campaign ever with four more days to go before the pandemic-struck Tokyo Games come to a close.
Bianca Pagdanganan kept her cool on a day when the temperature soared to the mid 30s Celsius, firing a two-under par 69 on Wednesday to keep the leaders in sight after the opening round of the women’s golf competition at the Kasimugaseki Golf Club.
Keeping herself fresh with an ice pack and a pamaypay in between shots, the 23-year old LPGA campaigner was joined at seventh spot by eight others, including LPGA winners Inbee Park of Korea and American Danielle Kang—three strokes behind leader Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden.
Yuka Saso, on the other hand, went the other way on a day when the humidity that put the Fil-Japanese’s caddie Lionel Matichuck in a hospital the day before after a heat stroke left Pagdanganan’s coach Carito Villaroman in a clinic inside the course due to dehydration.
Saso finished with a three-over 74 for a share of 47th place and needing to make up ground in Thursday’s second round to get back in it.
The reigning US Women’s Open champion made an early bogey on No. 2, steadied herself in mid-round only to slump with successive bogeys from the 16th.
Middleweight Eumir Marcial and flyweight Carlo Paalam, two brave fighters assured of the bronze, look to march on and get a shot at the gold as they resume their Olympic quests in the Kokugikan Arena on Thursday.
Both are one win away from silver medals and two victories shy of the ultimate prize.
But tough assignments await them in the fourth to the last day of boxing action at the Tokyo Olympics.
Marcial is up against Ukrainian Oleksandr Khyzhniak who dealt the Filipino a loss at the Strandja International in Bulgaria in 2019, while Paalam faces Japanese Ryomei Tanaka and may need a good performance with convincing shots so as not to let sympathetic judging go the hometown bet’s way.
Paalam will be the first to be up in the ring at 2:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. in Manila). Marcial clashes with the Ukranian at 3:03 p.m.
Boxing silver medalist Nesthy Petecio and pole vaulter EJ Obiena, meanwhile, gave their own accounts the morning after their final competition in the Tokyo Olympics.
Petecio lost to Japan’s Sena Irie via unanimous decision on Tuesday to become the second Tokyo Olympics medalist on Team Philippines after weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.
“I’ll first enjoy the rewards that are coming my way,” she said. “Maybe I’ll be resting a bit for now, my body needs rest—although as an athlete, you cannot take away my habit to sweat out regularly.”
In the same press conference, POC President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino promised to reward Petecio.
She said she’ll go back to training if her coaches tell her to do so.
“I will follow whatever my coaches tell me to do, they know what’s good for me,” said Petecio, who continuously thanked her coaches Nolito “Boy” Velasco and Don Abnett for helping her achieve her Olympic dream.
But Petecio said she will savor every moment from hereon in until she returns to training.
She said Paris 2024 beckons—after the smoke of celebration clears.
Obiena, who missed the podium of men’s pole vault on Tuesday night, had this to say: “It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to be. It didn’t feel like I was able to do what I could.”
Obiena, coached by the world-renowned Ukrainian Vitaly Petrov who monitored his every jump in the field along with his father Emerson, only managed to clear 5.70m, 17 centimeters short of his personal and Philippine best 5.87m.
Asked about his future, Obiena said everything would be up to Petrov.
“I will talk to my coach to try to understand what happened, and then we’ll move forward from there to see what we’re going to do in the next few weeks,” he said.
“We will see what I’m going to do. I don’t really know for the moment if I am going to compete, if I am going to continue or if I’m going to do this? No idea yet.” Obiena added.(PR)