Rising Bacolod star smashes 18-year-old long jump mark
ILAGAN CITY—A rising star from Bacolod stole the thunder from other fancied bets as he shattered an 18-year-old record in the 2017 Ayala Philippine National Open Invitational Athletics Championships Friday at the Ilagan Sports Complex in this sun-baked city.
Jose Jerry Belibestre of Negros ruled the boys’ long jump event in dominant fashion to join the elite list of record holders in this prestigious annual tourney sponsored by Ayala Corporation with Milo, Philippine Sport Commission and International Amateur Athletics Federation as co-presentors.
A third-year BS Education student at University Negros Occidental-Recoletos in Bacolod City, Belibestre tallied 7.43 meters to pocket the gold medal and destroy the 7.41-meter record tallied by Joebert Delicano in the Arafura Games in Darwin, Australia in 1999, when he was barely one year old.
Jericho Hilario of San Beda College settled for the silver medal with a mark of 6.82 meters, while Jhaelord Adriano of Team ISU grabbed the bronze medal after hammering 6.80 meters.
Belibestre, the eldest of the four children of a bicycle shop owner, said he was hardly threatened as he cleared the 7.0-meter mark in all of his six jumps.
“All of my jumps were more than seven meters,” said Belibestre, who claims to have registered a personal best of 7.53 meters in an unofficial competition in Bacolod City.
“I know I can win it. I prepared hard for this tournament and I am eyeing not just to win the gold, but also to break the record. That’s my goal. I always go for breaking records.”
Unfortunately, Belibestre is not leaning towards joining the national team as his coach, Miguel Arca, stressed that his ward is more comfortable training in the province rather than sending him to Manila to be under the care of the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (Patafa).
“It‘s the chemistry of the athlete and the coach that makes it work (in the province),” said Arca, a noted Visayas-based mentor from Ramonito Maravilla National High School whose other wards delivered golden triumphs in the Asean School Games, Children of Asia and Malaysia Open.
While Belibestre is starting to make a name for himself, a grizzled veteran resurfaced in a bid to reclaim his spot in the national squad headed for the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur this August.
Former national team star in Julius Sermona of Philippine Air Force zoomed in the final four-kilometer mark to reign supreme in the men’s 10,000-meter run.
The 38-year old Sermona, who last campaigned in the Laos SEA Games in 2009, clocked 33 minutes and 29.78 seconds in the long distance battle to overcome Gilbert Laido of Lucena City (33:32.28) and heavyweight Eduardo Buenavista of Philippine Air Force (33:43.29) to clinch the gold medal.
“Mahirap po kasi kapag atleta, hinahanap-hanap ng katawan mo ang pagtakbo,” said Sermona. “Medyo nageensayo na po ulit ako ngayon at baka sakaling makasama ulit sa national team. Medyo malayo pa din po ako ngayon pero makakaya namin kung makakabalik lang sa ensayo.”
Also emerging with golden finishes late Thursday were James Orduna of Bulacan, who tallied 16:04.49 to rule the boys’ 5,000-meter run; John Christian Capasao of Mapua, who registered 39.50 meters to dominate boys’ discuss throw; Albert Mantua of RP Team-City of Ilagan, who chalked 14.90 meters to reign supreme in men’s shot put; Aileen Tolentino of Philippine Army, who clocked 12:41.24 to grab the gold in the 3,000-meter steeplechase; and Emerson Obiena of NMSAAP, who penned 3.90 meters to retain his crown in men’s pole vault.
A total of 18 gold medals are still being disputed as of press time.