June 24, 2018, 1:18 am
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Davao del Norte runner wins first gold in Batang Pinoy meet

OROQUIETA, Misamis Occidental. — Standing 5-foot-3 and slightly-built, Aaron Gumban would easily be overlooked as an athlete.

But looks can be deceiving and Gumban proved this on Wednesday with an emphatic victory in the boys 5,000-meter run, winning the first gold medal in the Batang Pinoy Games Mindanao regional qualifiers at the Misamis Occidental Provincial Athletics Complex here.

Running under an early morning cloudy sky at the MOPAC track oval, the Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte pride took the lead after the third lap and never looked back to win handily in 17 minutes and 14.49 seconds in the games organized by the Philippines Sports Commission.

He finished 10 seconds ahead of South Cotabato’s Mark Rennel Hubag (17.59) while Davao del Norte’s Nikos Mampaundag (18.17) settled for the bronze in the competition supported by Misamis Occidental Gov. Herminia Ramiro.

“Masayang-masaya po ako sapagkat di ko po inaasahan na mananalo ako,” Gumban, 13, a Grade 7 student at the Sto. Tomas National High School said of his triumphant debut in the games also backed by Oroquieta Mayor Jason Almonte.

A bronze medalist in the same event in last month’s Davao Regional Athletic Association track meet, Gumban was gunning for his second gold in the boys 1,500-meter run later in the afternoon.

His coach, Beverly Villarino, a Social Studies teacher who doubles as the school’s its athletic coach, said Gumban showed a knack for long distance races “because he has a lot of stamina,” citing the boy’s win in the 3-kilometer run of the Milo Marathon Davao qualifiers last year.

“Hopefully, Gumban’s win will have a domino effect on the rest of our team,” added Villarino, who also coached former 2013 Palarong Pambansa discus throw gold medalist Carlo Caong.

His words proved prophetic for just a few minutes after Gumban’s win, with Adriane Hanz Taporco giving the small banana-producing town of just over 100,000 people its second gold by bagging the boys’ shot put on his first heave with a throw of 11.51 meters.

Khryss Rae Baraman of General Santos City (10.86) and Renante Catayas of Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte (10.71) copped the silver and bronze, respectively, in the age group sports showcase being held in this province for the first time.

“Napakasaya ko po kasi first time lang ako nakasali dito,” said the stocky Taporco, 15, a Grade 11 student at STNHS.

“At least, our town will now have two athletes who have qualified for the Batang Pinoy national finals in Baguio City in September,” said Villarino, who added his wards would get cash incentives from the Sto. Tomas municipal government.

Sharing the day’s spotlight was newcomer Jivie Magnetico, who collected the boys long jump gold with his second leap of 6.38 meters. Peterson Laparan of Plaridel, Misamis Occidental (6.26) won the silver and General Santos’ Fel Brian Britanico bagged the bronze (6.19).
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