Fil-American William Morrison III showed his readiness for the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games as he got back at John Albert Mantua in the men’s shot put while pole vaulter Hokett Delos Santos leaped to a new personal best on the final day of the Philippine Athletics Championships at the Philsports track oval in Pasig City.
In an emerging friendly rivalry between the two bruited top bets in the event in the 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games, Morrison, who now calls Baguio his second home, bagged his second straight gold in a row in heaving 17.06 meters on his fourth try to add to the discus throw mint he won last Thursday.
Also based in Baguio and a protégé of national coach Arniel Ferrera, Mantua had taken the early lead with a throw of 16.88 meters on his third try but could do no better than that in settling for second place in the meet organized by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association.
John Michael Fajardo of Metasports AC (13.94) was third on the podium in the two-day meet supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, Iligan City, G-Shock Casio, Chips Delight and Lily’s Peanut butter.
“This was a fine meet for me and I am glad that Joseph is here to really push me to do better and defend my shot put in the Vietnam SEA Games,” said the 6-foot-3 Morrison, who was runner-up to Mantua in the Singapore Open two weeks ago.
The gentle giant set a new SEA Games and national record of 18.38meters in winning the gold medal in his debut in the regional sports showcase held at the New Clark City Athletic Stadium in Capas, Tarlac when the country hosted the meet three years ago.
The prize find of national pole vault coach Emerson Obiena, Delos Santos set a new benchmark in jumping 5.05 meters on his second try at the height, a marked five-centimeter improvement over five meters flat he set in the Patafa-organized meet in Baguio last Feb. 24.
Even more significant is that his performance would have been good for bronze in the SEA Games, considering that Malaysia’s Iskandar Alawi placed third in the event in the 2019 Philippine edition with a jump of five meters.
Feeling ambitious, the lanky Iligan City, Isabela native tried to clear 5:15 meters but failed on his three attempts in the competition also backed GuanaPro -C, Cellife Cellular Nutrition, @Tokyo, Masiv Sports, Gatorade, Summit Mineral Water and Pencer Q.La Salle’s Francis Obiena, the son of coach’s Emerson sibling, Ed, was second (4.50), and his brother Matt David was third(3.70) in last tune-up competition of the national team before they plunge into action in the 31st Vietnam SEA Games in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.
“I am just happy that they are competing and they are able to figure out what they need to correct before the SEA Games competition and also happy that several of our athletes made personal bets. Theoretically you should be very happy when somebody keeps on improving,” said athletics chief Philip Juico, who witnessed the performances of the athletes during the two days of the meet.
“Of course winning medals like gold, silver, bronze, you have to start somewhere and work your way up,” he added.
Despite the restrictions and constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Filipino track and field campaigners hope to match the 11 gold, 8 silver and 8 bronze medals they won in the 2019 30thSEA Games when the meet opens on May 14 at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi.