TAGUM, Davao del Norte – When he was about nine years old, swimmer Maenard Batnag of Baguio City tried on a few sports, including taekwondo and soccer, in an effort to put his weight in check.
“I was fat and weighed 50 kilos at that time,” said a smiling Batnag, who has actually grown bigger at 55 kilos but is three year older at 12. “But when I began swimming, I started losing weight and my weight went down to 44 (kilos) at one time (from 50).”
Batnag revealed that taekwondo and soccer only made him even more voracious that he turned his back on the two sports and tried swimming.
The decision turned out to be the best choice as the Grade 7 Baguio HS student has developed an appetite for winning in the pool after taking three gold medals in the 2016 Batang Pinoy National Championships.
On Tuesday, Batnag was still in the running for medals in the 12-under 100 butterfly, 200 IM, 4×50 free and 4×50 medley.
Batnag topped the 200 back with a time of 2:31.26, while Matthieu Tao of Davao City came in second by finishing at 2:34.24 and third place went to Jake Ellis Evangelista of Batangas with a clocking of 2:34.87.
His winning time in the 200 meter fly was 2:30.07, way ahead of Eryk Omandam of Davao del Norte Province (2:34.77) and Emmanuel Suarez of South Cotabato (2:35.96).
In the 100 back, Batnag submitted a clocking of 1:08.88 to beat Tao (1:11.87) and Joshua Ang of Makati (1:14.71).
Like Batnag, another three-gold performer in swimming was Bagang Davao Oriental’s Christian Paul Anor, who won in the 13-17 boys 100 and 200 back and 100 free.
Also taking the spotlight during third day of hostilities was the double gold in athletics of barefoot runner Jocelyn Cayetano of Iloilo City, who reigned supreme in the 3000m after lording it over in the 1500m a day earlier.
Cayetano topped her 16-17 event with a time of 11 minutes and six seconds, leaving behind Rosemarie Espana of Bohol (11:47.11) and Marjorie Canaleja of Leyte (12:18.64).
Cayetano, hoping to clinch a scholarship in her native Iloilo after secondary school, says her athletic prowess is the one thing that gives her mother Bernadita a ray of hope.
Cayetano’s father died four years ago in a motorcycle accident and her mother does the laundry and a brother is engaged in fish delivery.
Another golden performance is being eyed by Cayetano in the 4×400 on Wednesday at the Davao del Norte Sports and Tourism Complex.
Giovanni Kasi of Koronadal City, a protege of Southeast Asian Games men’s long-jump record holder Henry Dagmil, won the boys’ 16-17 long jump with a leap of 6.64 meters.
In weightlifting, Shydijean Tormis of Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur topped the 28 and 32 kg girls; Rose Jean Ramos in the 32 kg; Dino Singson in the boys 30 kg; Citadel Callenero of Zamboanga City in the 36 girls; Lovely Ina of Angono, Rizal, in the +36 kg girls; James Albert Ramos of Tagbilaran City in the 36 kg boys; John Rapahel Macato of Bohol Province in the 38 kg; and Carl Andrew Macaso of Zamboanga City in the +38 kg.