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Diones upsets SEAG champ to win gold

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Cray anchors PH squad to new national record.

ILAGAN, Isabela – Mark Harry Diones established himself as a gold medal prospect in the coming Southeast Asian Games by edging Malaysian record holder Muhammad Ismail in the men’s triple jump final yesterday in the 2017 Ayala Philippine National Open invitational championships here.

Diones, a 24-year-old Jose Rizal University graduate, leapt 16.70 meters in his sixth and final attempt to win the gold medal and break his own national record 16.29m.

“Nakuha ko po yung magandang hop kasi mabilis din ang approach ko sa last jump,” said Diones who placed fourth in his SEAG debut two years ago in Singapore.

Ismail, the reigning SEAG champion, fouled in his first five attempts before taking the silver in 16.06 meters while Sri Lanka’s Sanjaya Sandaruwan settled for the bronze with a leap of 15.69 meters.

It was a disappointing performance for the Malaysian top favorite who holds the SEAG record of 16.76 meters.

Actually, Diones already had the gold in the bag even before the final jump after doing 16.14 meters in his fifth attempt.

But Diones went for the national record in his final attempt and did not disappoint.

It was the second national mark broken in the meet coming on the heels of the national team’s sparkling victory in the 4 x 100-meter relay Friday night.

Anchored by Fil-American Olympian Eric Cray, the nationals routed the field with a time of 40.29 seconds, eclipsing the old record of 40.55 seconds by a different quartet in the 2005 SEAG in Manila.

Aside from Cray, the hastily-formed squad was also made up of Anfernee Lopena, Fil-Am Trenten Beram, and Jomar Udtohan.

Relegated to second place was Sabah’s Eddie Edward Jr., Benedict Gawok, Ibrahim Saldam, and Shahrimien Saimoh who timed 42.32 seconds.

Mapua’s Fernan Lopez, Ronnie Valentin, Philip Austria, and John Renzelle Capingian took the bronze in 43.32 seconds.

Two hours before the relay win, Lopena won the men’s century dash in 10.65sec ahead of Sabah’s Eddie Edward Jr. (10.79sec) and Udtohan (10.82sec).

Despite the new national record, the men’s relay squad still has more work ahead if it intends to contend for the gold in the Kuala Lumpur Games in August.

The winning time still lags behind the bronze winners two years ago (39.32 seconds).