Reigning Cambodia Southeast Asian Games kata queen Sakura Alforte had her hands full before pulling off a thrilling win over veteran and former national champion Rebecca Torres in the Philippine National Games karate championships at the Philsports Arena in Pasig late Thursday night.
Both products of the Association for the Advancement of Karatedo club of the late former karate chief Pocholo Veguillas, Alforte, also the SEA Karate Federation women’s champ, scored 23.90 points, a mere 0.20 of a point over Torres in the meet organized by the Philippine Sports Commission.
Samantha Veguillas, daughter of former national standout Chino Veguillas, bagged the bronze medal with a score of 22.70 points in the sportsfest also backed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, PBA, Milo, Pocari Sweat, and Chooks to Go.
World championship quarterfinalist Jeremy Nopre ruled the men’s kata with 23.50 points, Felix Calipusan settled for silver (22.90), and Giovanni took home the bronze (22.50) in the competition also supported by the Philippine Olympic Committee and Department of Education.
“It is always nice to have a challenge, which only means you strive to perform better than you. I think Ma’am Rica is an important rival for me at the local level,” said the Tokyo-based Alforte, 21, of their close duel.
“This faceoff with Sakura felt great since I think this is just the first time we competed against each other since the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Torres, 30, who showed the fruits of her recent four-day training camp with Tokyo Olympic kata gold medalist Sandra Sanchez in Talavera, Spain.
Over at the Philsports pool, Bulacan tanker Rafael Barreto’s bid to sweep all of his five events was frustrated after winding up fifth in the boys 18-over 50-meter breaststroke in a time of 29.60 seconds in the event narrowly won by Santiago City’s Jalil Sephraim Taguinod (29.02).
A member of the national team, Barreto had earlier bagged his fourth gold in the boys 18-over 200-meter freestyle in 1:53.05 while Ormoc City’s Atasha dela Torre secured her third mint in winning the girls 18-over 100-meter butterfly event.
Completing a golden treble at the nearby Philsports oval was Davao City’s Lyca Catubig, who topped the women’s U20 5,000-meter walk in 28:21.82 while Pasig’s Justin Santo Macuring added his second mint in the men’s U20 of the same event in 26:26.23.
Also adding a third gold to her collection was Woman International Master Kylen Mordido, carrying the colors of Dasmarinas City, who secured the blitz women’s plum over Woman Fide Master Cherry Ann Mejia by the tiebreak after both finished with six points each.
Representing Taguig, Mejia had earlier secured the women’s rapid gold with six points.
The Mandaluyong squad of Francois Marie Magpily and Ma. Elayza Villa swept both the women’s rapid and blitz events.
As of 10 a.m. on Friday, Baguio City topped the overall medal standings with 18 gold, 11 silver, and six bronze medals, followed closely by Pasig City in second (15-21-26) while Mandaluyong and Davao City were third (11-11-17) and fourth (7-12-7), respectively.