Agojo takes silver: US-based jin claims PH's 2nd AYG gold
NANJING – Filipina Pauline Louise Lopez carried the hopes of a nation suffering from a big calamity and won the gold medal in taekwondo last night in the second Asian Youth Games here.
Lopez wrapped the Philippine flag around her body as she marched toward the podium.
“I’m still shaking. I’m speechless. All the hard work paid off,” she said afterwards.
The 17-year-old Lopez, who is based in the United States, drew a bye and went straight to the semifinals of the 55 kg division.
She escaped with a scary win over Jordan’s Rania Fawareh, 8-7, and then had an easier time beating Kazakhstan’s Fariza Aldangorova for the gold, 4-2.
The small Philippine contingent headed by chef-de-mission Tac Padilla erupted in cheers after Lopez was declared winner of the gold medal match.
Lopez was all smiles during the awarding ceremony, the Philippine flag around her body and her gold medal hanging from her neck.
“We are so proud of our athletes here,” said Padilla, who was joined in the stands by Philippine Olympic Committee officials Steve Hontiveros, Julian Camacho, Ramon Malinao and Jonne Go.
Lopez won the bronze in the Asian Juniors in Jakarta last June, and is heading back to the US after this tournament reserved for athletes aged 14 to 17.
After the awarding, Lopez went straight to the anti-doping area for mandatory tests.
It was the second medal in taekwondo for the Philippines after Francis Aaron Agojo won the silver in the boys’ 53 kg class the other day.
Agojo said he tried hard not to be affected by the calamity back home caused by Typhoon Maring.
“I just focused on my matches,” said the 17-year-old Agojo, gold medalist in last year’s tough Korea Open.
He gave his all against Thailand’s Ramnarong Sawekwiharee in the finals Wednesday night but fell short and took an 11-7 loss following big wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
Agojo beat Malaysia’s Navin Ari Krisnasamy, 11-4, and Kazakhstan’s Yerassyl Kaiyrbek, 9-8, to reach the finals. Like the Filipino, the Malaysian won a gold medal in the Asean Championships in Myanmar last May.
“We were confident. We expected this,” said taekwondo coach Dax Morfe.
Agojo said he’s aware of the massive flooding back home and just hoped that the worst is over.
“I’m happy and proud of what I achieved here. I tried my best to win the gold for our country,” he said at the Longjiang Gymnasium.
The Filipino athletes, funded by the Philippine Sports Commission, now have two gold and two silver medals with only two days of action left.
Mia Legaspi and Princess Superal scored a one-two finish in girls’ golf the other day. In the 2009 AYG in Singapore, the Philippines only had one silver medal and a bronze.
Jurence Mendoza is in the semis of boys’ tennis and is already assured of a bronze. He was scheduled to face Indian Garvit Batra yesterday, seeking a slot in the finals.
He also had something to say about the calamity back home.
“I just hope everybody stays safe,” said the sun-burned freshman at UP Diliman and No. 89 in the wold youth ranking.
Mendoza’s chances brightened up after Chinese top seed Zheng Weiqiang, the No. 55 in the world, was stunned by Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Popko in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-3.
The Philippines suffered a painful loss to 3-on-3 basketball when Isaac Go, Patrick Ramirez and Andrei Carucot lost to Iran, 16-14, in the quarterfinals.
The Filipino dribblers, who came here one man short, took a big 9-1 lead only to allow the Iranians to catch up and grab the lead at 14-13 with only 48 seconds left.
“It was a won ballgame but playing here minus one player as substitute has already taken its toll on our players. But they gave their best,” said coach Nic Jorge.
The 3-on-3 team was formed after the original choices begged off at the last minute due to studies. The loss to Iran was followed by another 21-18 defeat to Malaysia.
The Filipino dribblers, who can easily get the crowd here going with their moves inside the court, was playing a consolation match as of presstime.
In swimming, Catherine Bondad, Jethro Chua and Rafael Sta. Maria advanced to the finals of their respective events yesterday morning. The finals were set in the evening.
Bondad reached the finals with a time of 1:00.79 in the girls’ 100m free while Chua and Sta. Maria, in the same event, qualified with times of 54.03 and 54.34.
The Richardson twins, Kayla and Kyla, made it to the semis of the girls’ 200m race, scheduled last night at the Nanjing Olympic Stadium, after finishing fifth and sixth in the 100m finals the other night.