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PH loses a sure medal winner

KUALA LUMPUR – The Philippines lost a potential medalist in the 29th Southeast Asian Games when hurdler Patrick Unso hurt his left hamstring last month during a Grand Prix meet in India.

“Patrick is not joining the team. He was advised to rest by doctors,” said Renato Unso, his father and secretary-general of the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA).

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The injury is common among sprinters and is not career-threatening, according to the elder Unso, who also had to deal with an assortment of injuries during his athletic career.

“Patrick just needs to rest and undergo therapy to speed up the healing,” said the PATAFA official during a chance interview at the airport Thursday.

The injury could have not come at the most opportune time.

The 24-year-old La Salle graduate, who took the bronze medal in the 2015 Games in Singapore, was enjoying his finest season. He smashed his father’s long standing record in the 110-meter hurdles when he clocked 13.91 seconds during the Thailand Open last June.

The young Unso was also set to run the two relays.

“There are other runners who can replace Patrick in the relays. At least, he can concentrate on his studies while he’s away,” said Renato who won a gold and silver in the 1983 SEA Games.

Patrick is taking up medicine at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay (UERM).

The Philippines won five gold medals in Singapore, including two by Fil-American Olympian Eric Cray who will defend his titles on Aug. 22.

The other returning champions are century dash winner Kayla Anise Richardson and steeplechase gold medalist Christopher Ulboc Jr.

Chances are bright that the team can improve on their previous performance, but optimism among track officials remained guarded.

Full-blown action in athletics get going on Tuesday, but gold medals in men’s and women’s marathon will be at stake hours before the opening ceremonies at the National Stadium in KL Sports City.

Marathoners Mary Joy Tabal and Jeson Agravante flew in Wednesday ahead of their teammates.

Tabal, who won the silver in Singapore, is gunning for the gold medal this time.