Stung by a close loss in a previous event earlier in the day, Quendy Fernandez charged back strongly, handily topping the women’s 18-over 200-meter backstroke event and becoming the first quadruple gold medalist in the Philippine National Games at the Philsports pool in Pasig City yesterday.
In an intense duel between UP varsity squad teammates, Atasha dela Torre foiled Fernandez’s bid for a fourth straight gold in the women’s 18-over 50-meter freestyle after wins in the 50-meter butterfly, 100-meter backstroke, and relay events the previous day.
Representing Ormoc City, Leyte, Dela Torre beat Fernandez by a touch, winning the women’s 18-over freestyle event in a time of 28.04 seconds to the latter’s 28.16 seconds in the sportsfest organized by the Philippine Sports Commission.
It was Dela Torre’s second gold medal in three days, counting her victory in the women’s 18-over 100-meter freestyle last Monday, in the meet backed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, PBA, Milo, Pocari Sweat, and Chooks-to-Go.
Representing Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Fernandez, the UAAP Season 86 Swimming MVP and Rookie of the Year, shrugged off the setback an hour or so later, romping off with the mint in the women’s 18-over 200-meter backstroke in a time of 2:29.52.
“I am very happy for Atasha. It was a close race, but it only inspired me to do better in the 200-meter backstroke,” Fernandez, who missed her medal ceremony because she had to rush back to UP Diliman to complete some school requirements, said.
“I am super happy for this second gold and for representing my city as well as my school,” said Dela Torre, who also won a bronze medal in the 50-meter freestyle event, as she and her UP teammate joined the ranks of having won more than three medals in the sportsfest.
Halfway through the meet and on a day when female athletes flexed both their mental and physical muscles, Women International Master Kylen Mordido also stood out in chess at the GSIS building in Pasay City.
Riding on a six-match winning streak entering the seventh and final round, Mordido, representing Dasmarinas, wound up her campaign with a draw against Mandaluyong’s Francoise Marie Magpily to top the women’s individual standard event in chess with 6.5 points.
A veteran of the 2022 Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India, she teamed up with Jeryl Mae San Diego in capturing the women’s team standard gold.
At the Philsports track oval, Davao City’s Lyka Labrica Catubig moved closer to completing a golden treble after stamping her class anew in bagging her second straight gold in the women’s U20 5,000-meter run in 19:26.84.
A BS Criminology student at the University of Mindanao, Catubig, who won the women’s 3,000-kilometer walk last, earning her the distinction as the first PNG gold medalist, will gun for a golden treble today in the 5,000-meter walk.
“At least I won’t be waking up early for my third event. But I intend to sleep early as usual,” quipped the Davao City pride, who woke up at 3 a.m. yesterday to reach the competition in time from her Manila quarters, since her third and last event will be held in the afternoon today.