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Palaro sidelights NCR kids score rarities

Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - May 10, 2014 - 12:00am

STA. CRUZ, Laguna, Philippines - – Secondary boys’ sprint champ Jomar Udtohan has continued to impress with record-breaking runs, including a sweep of the sprint double and the 400-meter run.

Renato Unso, a former track star during the Gintong Alay days, said Udtohan could be likened to former Asia’s sprint queen Lydia de Vega-Mercado, who also won and set marks in winning the 1982 edition of the annual multi-sports meet for elementary and high school student-athletes in Zamboanga del Norte.

Udtohan, representing San Sebastian of the National Capital Region, became the first athlete in more than two decades to complete a rare sweep of the 100m and 200m dashes and 400m run in record fashion.

“I’ve been in the Palaro long enough to know that no one has ever done it in the Palaro since Lydia (de Vega-Mercado),” said Unso, here as one of track and field’s top technical officials.

The San Rafael, Bulacan native actually posted new records in the century dash, the 400m and the 200m dash twice – in the heats and finals.

* * * *

Imee Joyce Saavedra left Zamboanga for the Big City to seek a greener pasture. She found gold in swimming.

With a day to go, Saavedra has racked up four gold medals – in 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle and the 200m freestyle relay.

The 12-year-old Diliman Preparatory School student also made her feats in record fashion, including two in one event Thursday when she helped the NCR team smash the 200m freestyle relay twice, in the morning heats and afternoon finals.

“I trained hard,” said Saavedra in Filipino.

Saavedra’s coach, Dennis Cordero, said she is using the sport as a way to help her family.

“She (Saavedra) came from a poor family. And swimming is a way to get her an education and a chance to succeed in the future,” said Cordero of the young girl, whose trip here was made possible by DPS president and former Sen. Nikki Coseteng.                                                      

BIG CITY DENNIS CORDERO DILIMAN PREPARATORY SCHOOL GINTONG ALAY IMEE JOYCE SAAVEDRA JOMAR UDTOHAN LYDIA NIKKI COSETENG SAAVEDRA
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