BY BONG PEDRALVEZ
PUERTO PRINCESA — Trackster Magvryle Chrause Matchino displayed her full potential, Cebuano archer Aldrener Igot Jr. was on course to emerge as the most bemedaled athlete, while Kateleen Chloe Garcia earned the title of women’s artistic gymnastics princess in the Pinoy National Games here on Thursday .
Finally fit and pain-free, Matchino, who had a forgettable Palarong Pambansa outing in Davao City last May due to injury, became the winningest track and field athlete after sweeping all her three events at the close of athletics action at the Ramon V. Mitra Sports Complex track oval.
After handily topping the girls 2,000-meter steeplechase in seven minutes and 38.8 seconds, the Siniloan, Laguna pride still had plenty to spare in keying Laguna province to a golden double in the girls 4×100 and 4×400-meter relays.
Boosted by her strong third leg, the Laguna bets bagged the 4×100-meter relay gold in 52.4 seconds, relegating Bacolod (52.6) and Negros Occidental (53.2) to second and third place, respectively, in the meet organized by the Philippine Sports Commission and supported by Milo.
Matchino, 15, closed out her campaign on a winning note in pacing the Laguna squad to victory in the 4x400m relay event in 4:17.3 in the grassroots sportsfest hosted by the Puerto Princesa city government led by Mayor Lucilo Bayron.
Overall, the lanky teener bagged four golds, including the 1,500-meter mint, and a silver medal in the 800-meter run. Not bad for the Grade 10 Siniloan National High School student, whose best finish in the last Palaro was fifth place in the 1,500-meter race when she was a hampered by a pulled calf muscle.
“May injury siya sa huling Palaro kaya masama ang laro niya duon. Pero ngayon wala nang iniinda si Bunny (Matchino’s nickname),” Laguna coach Geron Torres, a protégé of former national team standout Elmer Reyes, said with pride. “Malaki talaga ini-improve niya.”
Matchino’s efforts won’t go unrewarded, Torres said, revealing that Laguna Gov. Ramil Hernandez was giving a bonus of P2,000 to P5,000 for each medal won by the Laguna campaigners in this sportsfest.
With five mints already tucked under his belt, Igot subdued Puerto Princesa’s Nathaniel Carlos 6-2 in the cub boys Olympic round in the afternoon at the RVM range turned wet and muddy due to persistent drizzles.
His golden assault was far from over since he is still scheduled to see action in the boys team event the mixed team contest tomorrow.
“My initial target is seven golds, but if there’s a chance I can win eight I will go for it,” Igot, an eight-grader of the Don Carlos A. Gothong School, said.
Over at the Puerto Princesa City Coliseum, diminutive Kateleen Chloe Garcia, 11, of Apalit, Pampanga was in a class of her own in bagging all five golds up for grabs in impressive fashion in the floor exercise (11), balance beam (10.466), uneven bars (9.133), vault (11.66) and all-around (42.233) events.