Ilagan pole vaulter wins it on home turf
Hokett delos Santos clears the bar in the pole vaultboysfinal ofthe14thSEA YouthAthletics Championship at City of Ilagan Sports Complex.
Joey Mendoza
Ilagan pole vaulter wins it on home turf
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - March 4, 2019 - 12:00am

ILAGAN CITY, Isabela, Philippines — Promising pole vaulter Hokket delos Santos couldn’t have used a better venue to dish out his best performance and biggest triumph – at home.

Cheered on by his dad and fellow Isabelenoes on the stands of the City of Ilagan Sports Complex, Santa Barbara, Ilagan's very own Delos Santos struck gold in the final event of the 14th Southeast Asian Youth Athletics Championships yesterday and helped ensure Team Philippines’ brighest showing in the international meet since 2017.

Not even a broken spike shoes could prevent Delos Santos, a frustrated basketball and volleyball player, from meeting his date with destiny in his new sport. 

The 5-foot-11 hometown bet cleared 4.20 meters – a new personal best –  to beat Singaporeans Elliott Wee Junn (4.10m) and Heng Jee Kuan  (3.80m) for the mint, following up the triumph of Zambales’ high-jumper Mariel Abuan in the morning sessions and the victory of fellow pole vaulter Ma. Krizzie Charisse Ruzol on opening day.

With three golds,seven silvers and nine bronzes overall, host Phl not only improved on the one-silver, three-bronze collection last year in Thailand but also marked its best showing since  a 1-9-15 collection two years ago when the meet was also held in this city known as the “Corn Captial of the Philippines.” 

“Masayang masaya kasi first time ko sa SEA Youth at dito pa sa Ilagan ginanap. Naging inspirasyon ko ang suporta nila,” said the shy Delos Santos, who converted to pole vault only in 2017 after unsuccessful attempts to crack the big time in basketball and volleyball.

The sole of Delos Santos’ spike broke while attempting at 4.0 m but that didn’t stop him from going for glory.

“Pumipitik pitik kaya nilagyan ko ng tape,” he shared.

Earlier in the day, unfazed by the presence of taller rivals from Vietnam and Thailand, five-foot Abuan put up a mighty effort of  1.65 meters to capture the diadem.

Abuan outjumped a pair of Vietnamese, Thanh Vy Nguyen (1.61m) and Quynh Giang Pham (1.58m) as well as Thailand’s Suwincha Kanrai (1.58m), Singapore’s Chew Yiu Tse Adje (1.58m) and Yasmeen Marie Lufti (1.55m) and compatriot Princess Lynn Diano (1.35m).  

“Challenging kasi iba-iba ang kalaban, may Vietnam, may Thailand, may Singapore at medyo kinabahan kasi matatangkad sila pero nilakasan ko loob ko, inisip ko kakayanin at nagdasal ako,” said Abuan.

The reigning Batang Pinoy high jump princess also emerged as the top-performing Phl bet in the two-day meet as she also owns a bronze medal as part of the podium-finishing girls’ 4x400m  team.

Delivering a silver for Phl on the last day of hostilities were hammer throwers Daniel Rambacal (44.29m) and Tina Rosete (26.83m) and the mixed gender 4x400m relay crew of Ranelo Gili, Charlane de Ocampo, Jeshrelvan Ombid, and Tara Borlain (3:40.47).

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