Slow day for team Philippines

Rule advances when others fail

TOKYO – A semifinal passage by a Texas Longhorn swimmer proved to be the saving grace as the Philippine romp came to a screeching halt in Day 5 of the XXXII Olympics marked by losses on the judo mat and in the weightlifting hall.

Remedy Rule made the semifinals of the women’s 200-meter butterfly at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, some sparkle in an otherwise bleak day that followed weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s historic triumph.

Another tanker, Luke Gebbie, a Fil-Kiwi, celebrated his Olympic debut with a national record-breaking performance but it was not enough for the semis in the men’s 100 freestyle.

Rule, winner of two silvers and two bronzes in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Clark, clocked 2:12.23. She was dead last in her heat but ranked No. 15 overall, thus, making the 16-swimmer field in the next round.

Thus, she somehow eased the disappointment from her quick exit in the 100m butterfly on Saturday.

Gebbie, for his part, improved the Philippine record (49.94) he himself set in the 2019 FINA World Championship in Gwangju, South Korea as he clocked 49.64 seconds in the heats.

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He came in fifth in Heat 5 but just 28th overall.

He competes in the 50m freestyle Friday.

Meanwhile, lady flag-bearer Kiyomi Watanabe had an unceremonious exit followed by a seventh-place finish by young weightlifter Elreen Ann Ando in women’s 64kg.

Watanabe, silver medalist in the 2018 Asian Games, bowed out just 36 seconds into her first-round match, disposed of by Spain’s Cristina Cabana Perez via Ippon – a stoppage in the sport Japan introduced to the world.

Perez pounced on Watanabe after a takedown attempt by the Fil-Japanese athlete, quickly transitioning into an arm bar.

The heart-rending defeat automatically eased Watanabe out of the medal hunt since only losers from the quarterfinals and onwards fight in the repechage.

In the arena of Diaz’ triumph the previous night, Ando showed a glimpse of the future with a total lift of 222. She improved from her lift of 213 in the Asian meet in Tashkent, Uzbekistan last year.

A surprise Tokyo Games qualifier in her young age of 22, the Cebu City native is among those being considered for a Philippine weightlifting coup in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

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