Bowler Rivera wins first gold for PH in 16th Asian Games
GUANGZHOU—Biboy Rivera nailed a gold medal in the men’s singles competition in tenpin bowling, and teammate Frederick Ong had a bronze to boot Monday to lift the spirits of the Philippine delegation at the 16th Asian Games here.
The 36-year-old Rivera rolled a six-game series of 1414 to beat Mohammed A.M.A. Alrgeebah of Kuwait by 10 pinfalls at the Tianhe Bowling Hall, as the Philippines finally nailed a victory on the third day of competition of this quadrennial meet.
“I couldn’t believe it at first but I’m really so happy right now,” said Rivera, who finished third in the recent World Cup.
“This is the first gold medal for the country in these Asian Games so we’re very proud that it was bowling that delivered,” said coach Lydio Trasporto.
Rivera actually topped Squad A but needed to wait agonizingly for the results of Squad B—where Alrgeebah and Ong were playing—before finally sealing the victory.
“He went out to the athletes’ lounge to interact with fellow bowlers,” Trasporto said. “He’s such a sport that he probably didn’t want people to think he was praying for people to lose.”
Former bowling star Jojo Canare, also Rivera’s coach here, said Rivera could not believe he had won the gold after enduring a five-hour wait for the second set of competitors to finish.
When squad B was three games into its six-game roll, Alrgeebah and Thai Somjed Kusonpithak were on track to dislodging Rivera from the top after topping 250 in average in that phase.
Alrgeebah actually needed two strikes to steal the gold. He nailed the first but missed in the second, sending the Philippine gallery into an eruption of cheers. Alrgeebah’s miss left only one challenger for the gold, but that was Ong, who needed a turkey to get the job done.
By then, it didn’t matter.
“Whether it was Frederick or Biboy, the only thing that mattered was we delivered a gold for the Philippines and I’m really so proud of the players because I saw how hard they really worked for this,” said Canare.
The victory came a day before the highly touted boxing team—one expected to also deliver a gold medal—was set to plunge into action with Charly Suarez starting things off against unknown Daniyar Tulegenov of Kazakhstan at the Foshan gymnasium in the 56kg (bantamweight) division.
Another piece of good news came from the Aoti Aquatics Center, where the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay team managed to reach the finals after placing third in their heat with a time of 7:33.52. The team was made up of Jessie Lacuna, Charles Walker, Ryan Arabejo and Miguel Molina.
Daniel Coakley earlier failed to advance in the 50 free and Erica Totten missed the cut in the women’s 200 fly.
In shooting, Nathaniel “Tac” Padilla launched a serious rally in his pet 25m rapid fire pistol but committed an error that quelled his momentum and left him out of the finals. Youngsters Charisse Palma and Jayson Valdez also missed the mark in their respective events.
Padilla, needing a strong stage 2 performance to try to rally his way to the finals of his pet event, fared badly in the end after a strong start.
“My last five rounds did me in,” said the 46-year-old Padilla at the Aoti Shooting range in Tianhe district here. “I made the mistake of lifting too early and I tried to put it back but by then, nasira na timing ko (my timing was off).”
A day earlier, dancesports produced two bronzes in the Latin events cha-cha-cha and paso doble.
Boxing hopes to add to the modest medal collection and the PH team got a big boost with a favorable draw.
The rest of the PH boxers’ first-round schedule includes: Vic Saludar going up against Malaysian Muhamad Fuad Mohd Redzuan in the 46 to 49kg division (light flyweight); Rey Saludar battling Bhutan’s Kinley Gyeltshen in the 52 kg division (flyweight); Delfin Boholst facing Tuvshinbat Byamba in the 64kg division (light welterweight) and female pug Annie Albania going up against Kazakhstan’s Zhaina Shekerbekova in the 48 to 51 kg class (flyweight).
Ricky Vargas, boxing president, said he was expecting the team to bring home at least one medal, especially since Smart Sports had invested heavily in its training and preparation.
“It’s payback time,” he told reporters recently.
Picson is aware of the expectations on the boxing squad but said the team refuses to be daunted by it.
“We’ve had a long preparation and we’ve had international training so I guess we really have reason to be optimistic about our chances,” Picson said. “There’s pressure on us to deliver but we’ll try not to dwell on it and simply focus on what needs to be done on top of the ring.”
The host country already won 43 gold, 16 silver and 14 bronze medals as of press time.
Second-running Korea has 16-11-14 and Japan 8-20-16.
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