BANTAY, Ilocos Sur — Determined to claim a medal after finishing way out of the podium places last year, Francis James San Gabriel set off to follow a blueprint for winning and ended up with gold and much more.
San Gabriel focused on Palarong Pambansa record holder Bryan Oxales of NCR and ended up setting a new mark in the 2,000-meter walk on Tuesday.
“‘Yung nag-silver ngayon, siya ang nag-gold (in 2017). Tinarget ko po siya talaga. Parang nag-time trial ako, tinitignan ko talaga kung malapit na ako. ‘Yun talaga tinarget ko na mas palakasin pa ‘yung time ko,” said San Gabriel.
The 17-year-old San Gabriel, from Umingan in Pangasinan, had a time of nine minutes and 33.01 seconds. Oxales settled for second, behind by only 0.14 seconds.
After a third-place finish in the 2016 Palaro, San Gabriel wound up sixth in Antique last year. He vowed to bounce back, eyeing Oxales’ record time in last year’s Palaro at 10:11.3.
San Gabriel said he was encouraged by friend Carl Angelo Cunanan, who has also won gold for their for their in the Batang Pinoy National Games.
“Na-inspire po kasi ako ng barkada ko na walkathon. Nanalo din siya noon kaya nung pag-graduate na siya, na-inspire ako na ako ang pumalit sa kanya,” said the Umingan Central National High School standout.
“Kapag kasama ko, pinapayuhan niya ako. Siya na rin ‘yung parang unang nagturo sa akin,” he said.
In the secondary girls’ long jump, Trexie Dela Torre of Western Visayas registered 5.54 meters to win the gold.