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Philippine National Games: Leonard Grospe sets new PH record in high jump

Leonard Grospe set a new national record, while the prolific Quendy Fernandez capped her campaign with a sixth gold medal in swimming yesterday, with one day left in the Philippine National Games.

Grospe, who became a national athlete in 2020, took the spotlight early Wednesday evening.

He broke an 18-year-old national standard in the men’s high jump – not once but twice. Grospe secured the gold medal with a height of 2.20 meters on his first try at the Philsports track oval in Pasig.

As fate would have it, the athlete witnessing the epic occasion was none other than his own coach, Sean Guevara, whose record he broke.

Guevara set the previous mark of 2.17 meters on April 5, 2005, during the National Open held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Still fighting the lingering effects of a fever he had a week ago, Grospe actually broke the old mark with a jump of 2.18 meters, also on his first attempt. He then decided to continue and raise the bar higher to see how far he could go.

With the gold firmly in the bag, the Mapua University varsity squad member tried twice but failed to clear 2.22 meters.

“Masayang-masaya ako kasi matagal na naming goal na-break yung record ni Coach Sean,” said the 6-foot-1 beanpole from Dilasag, Aurora, who was discovered by Guevarra while competing in the Central Luzon Regional Athletic Association meet in early 2019.

“Of course, I am very happy for Leonard since he was able to break my record. He was able to break the psychological barrier of 2.17 meters, which he had been clearing in practice. I always believed he had it in him to do 2:20,” said Guevara, beaming.

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“Records are meant to be broken. So feeling fulfilled talaga that he (Grospe) broke it. This is my legacy to the sport that has been very good to me.”

At the adjacent Philsports pool, Fernandez powered the Puerto Princesa squad, also composed of Maglia Jave Dignadice, Pearl June Daganio, and elder sister Cindy, to victory in the women’s 18-over 4×50-meter freestyle relay in a time of one minute and 54.43 seconds.

With six golds and one silver medal, the prolific UP Maroon swimming sensation cemented her distinction as the most bemedalled athlete of the meet organized by the Philippine Sports Commission.

“I did not expect this would happen, but I am happy to have given my city of Puerto Princesa these honors with my performance,” said the soft-spoken UAAP Season 86 Swimming MVP and rookie of the year.

Sharing the limelight was national swimmer Miguel Barreto, representing Bulacan province, who bagged his third straight gold in a row in handily winning the boys 18-over 400-meter freestyle in 4:03.18.

“I am just happy that we have won three golds so far and hopefully add two more tomorrow,” said Barreto, who aims to add the 200-meter freestyle and 50-meter breaststroke to his collection today in the sports fest backed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, PBA, Milo, Pocari Sweat, and Chooks-to-Go.

Other swimming winners on the penultimate day of the PNG included Santiago City’s Jalil Sephraim Taguinod in the boys’ 18 over-100-meter breaststroke (1:05.83) and Tagbilaran City’s Angel Lyn Docabo in the girls 18-over breast (1:19.95).

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Pasig’s Ryann Emmanuel Suarez and Mandaluyong’s Jindsy Azze Mogia Dassion were tops in the boys and girls 18-over 400-meter butterfly events with times of 2:14.44 and 2:30.64, respectively.

National athlete June Sergio Gobotia, who won the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase earlier, added his second mint with a victory in the men’s 5,000-meter run in 15:09.58, while female counterpart Joida Gagnao was tops on the distaff side of the same event in 17:20.61.

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