The dark moments of ’21

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

In yesterdays column, we celebrated 10 shining moments in Philippine sports the past year. Today, we bemoan the 10 dark moments that put a damper on Philippine sports in 2021.

Pandemic isnt over. Varsity athletes havent competed or done actual face-to-face training for nearly two years. Depending on quarantine and now alert levels, the PBA is being yanked in and out of venues with or without a live audience. Normalcy is a distant goal but lets hope we get there sooner than later.

Karate fails to make Olympic and world breakthrough. Despite star-class kumite practitioners Junna Tsukii and Jamie Lim, the Philippines failed to qualify a single karateka at the Tokyo Olympics. And at the World Championships, Lim was a point away from bagging a bronze. A consolation was at the Asian Championships in Kazakhstan last month, the Philippine team brought home two silvers and four bronzes, a portent of things to come although it isnt likely that karate will be back in the Paris Olympic calendar in 2024.

Pacquiao loses world title. It wasnt the way Manny Pacquiao was supposed to end his storybook boxing career. He didnt ride out into the sunset in a blaze of glory. Last August, Pacquiao lost his super WBA welterweight crown to Cubas Yordenis Ugas on points at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Pacquiao lost mobility in his legs in the early rounds because of cramps and couldnt use his speed to offset Ugasadvantage in height, length and heft. Still, Pacquiao drew louder applause than Ugas when the decision was announced, a tribute to the Man of Destiny.

Obienas mess with PATAFA. The rift shouldnt have escalated to a level where the sporting world took a front seat in watching the Asian pole vault record holder treated like he deserved to be in jail. Obiena has been accused of misuse of funds but from all indications, everything is accounted for. PATAFA president Popoy Juico has been declared “persona non grataby the POC for allegedly harassing Obiena but he doesnt recognize the Ethics Commission that recommended the censure.

Paralympics tragedy. The Philippines wouldve been represented by six athletes at the Tokyo Paralympics this year but COVID-19 decimated the lineup to only three. Three coaches tested positive and chef de mission Kiko Diaz and Philippine Paralympic Committee secretary-general Walter Torres never left the county after testing positive. There was no Filipino athlete, coach or official left in Tokyo for the closing ceremonies.

Casimeros issues. WBO bantamweight champion JohnRiel Casimero severed ties with the team that brought him to the top and pulled out of his title defense against Paul Butler in Dubai because of viral gastritis last month. The rumor was Casimero couldnt make weight and was severely dehydrated that he decided to check himself in at a hospital. The WBO decided to keep Casimero on the throne but said if he fails again to defend his crown, for whatever reason, stripping is inevitable. Casimero was at his peak when working with Sean Gibbons, trainer Nonoy Neri and strength/conditioning coach Memo Heredia. But he now has a brand new team.

Martinez fails in comeback bid. Two-time Winter Olympic figure skater Michael Martinez attempted to come back after a three-year hiatus but wasnt chosen to represent the Philippines in bidding for a third Olympic appearance at the Nebelhorn Trophy. Instead, he competed at the Finlandia Trophy where he finished 24th last October and at the Cup of Austria where he placed 23rd last November. Martinez, 25, continues to train but with figure skating out of the coming SEA and Asian Games, hell be hard pressed to find a competition thats recognized by the PSC and POC.

Challengers fall. There were five Filipino challengers who were thwarted in attempts to win a world boxing title the past year. Robert Paradero lost twice, first to Vic Saludar for the vacant regular WBA minimumweight crown in Biñan last February and second to Knockout CP Freshmart of Thailand by a fifth round KO in Phuket last month. Jayson Mama was outpointed by IBF flyweight king Sunny Edwards in Dubai last month. Reymart Gaballo was stopped in the fourth round by WBC bantamweight ruler Nonito Donaire Jr. in Carson City last month. Michael Dasmarinas was halted by super WBA, IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue in Las Vegas last June. Other losers in world title fights were Pacquiao, Pedro Taduran and Saludar who were dethroned last year.

VisMin Super Cup scandal. Game-fixing reared its ugly head during a game in the VisMin Super Cup in Alcantara, Cebu, last April. The contest was called off at halftime when it was evident that players were out to lose. GAB conducted an investigation then revoked the licenses of 10 players and eight officials, including the coaches of both teams. The Siquijor Mystics were expelled from the league.

Deaths. We mourn the passage of sports heroes Ato Badolato at 74, Olympic swimmer Haydee Coloso Espino at 83, Olympic boxing bronze medalist Leopoldo Serrantes at 59, 2016 Paralympic table tennis bronze medalist Josephine Medina at 51, former Asian Basketball Confederation secretary-general Moying Martelino at 86, former POC president Cito Dayrit at 69, 1976 Chess Olympian Cesar Caturla at 71, former national football goalkeeper Vic Sison at 84, SEA Games baseball gold medalist Jerome Yenson at 24, former UAAP juniors football MVP Kieth Absalon at 21, former UE coach Lawrence Chongson at 57, former UAAP MVP judoka Dither Tablan at 23, former La Salle basketball player Rafa Dinglasan at 53, amateur boxing referee Cildo Evasco at 50, SEA Games boxing gold medalist Genebert Basadre at 37, Olympic swimmer Jacinto Cayco at 96, former PBA player Nonoy Chuatico at 55, former PBA player Luke Dacula at 72, Olympic basketball player Paing Hechanova at 93, three-time Olympic swimmer Amman Jalmaani at 72, former Crispa team manager Tony Uichico at 92, former PBA chairman Ber Navarro at 81, former PBA player Bert Ortiz at 61, cycling organizer Moe Chulani at 45 and swimmer Mary Christine Villarete at 64.


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