John Mark Tokong needed not just one but two wins for the day to stay in the competition. He prevented a Team Pilipinas shutout on Day 4 of the 2021 ISA World Surfing Games in El Salvador, Thursday morning (Manila time).
With Nilbie Blancada slipping into the Round 4 of the repechage, the rest of the contingent was hard-pressed to remain in the hunt for an Olympic ticket. Tokong accomplished such with the result.
In his second heat of the day, the 24-year-old surfer saved his best of just three waves to stun everyone with the win to join Blancada into the fourth round of the second-chance heats.
Tokong needed a huge score and pulled off a much needed 5.73 to not just qualify, but to deny Carlos Muñoz of Costa Rica of advancing in his stead. Ecuador’s Jonathan Zambrano finished in second with a 10.6.
With time running out, Muñoz threatened to eliminate the Filipino from the competition with a huge 6.10 to move into the lead, before the latter and Zambrano caught a productive wave. The South American then scored a 5.43 and then Tokong did one better with the said 5.73 to instead send the Costa Rican home.
The 2019 Siargao Cloud 9 International tilt champion earlier survived his Round 2 of the repechage with just two waves at 9.03, after Ireland’s Rory Tuohy and Nicaragua’s Elton Sanchez could not get decent scores on the board. Leandro Usana of Argentina won that heat with just a 0.07 lead over the Filipino.
The win also averted a wipeout of the Filipino field as the four others were sent packing the board bags.
Daisy Valdez could not follow up her earlier win and bowed out in the third round of the repechage as a priority interference penalty proved costly as she ended up with just a 2.53.
Chile’s Jessica Anderson had the priority of wave selection, but Valdez accidentally snaked a run through one resulting in the said infraction that led to the loss and the elimination.
Earlier in the day, the 34-year-old mom had a late surge in the previous round to place second with a 7.03, as Ellie Turner of Great Britain won with 8.67.
The rest of Team Pilipinas suffered exits in the Round 2 repechage as Edito Alcala Jr. and Rogelio Esquievel Jr. ended in third, and Vea Estrellado ended in fourth in their respective heats.
Tokong will attempt to continue his run, and he and Blancada delve into the fourth round of the repechage as action continues on Thursday.