By Jerome Lagunzad
ILAGAN CITY – National team mainstay Marco Vilog pulled off a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the men’s 800m run while in-form Army runner Richard Salaño completed a long distance treble on Sunday in the 2018 Ayala Philippine Athletics Championships at the City of Ilagan Sports Complex here.
Still far from his top form since he’s still dealing with kidney problems, Vilog, 26, summoned the best on what’s left in him in the final 200m meters and outsprinted San Beda’s Mariano Masano in a frantic finish for his breakthrough victory in the penultimate day of the annual trackfest presented by the City of Ilagan.
Vilog, the silver medalist in the men’s 800m in last year’s Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, clocked one minute and 51.98 seconds, good enough to hold off Masano who checked in at 1:52.94 and fellow national team member who finished a distant third at 1:54.86.
The victory, which came on the heels of his similar golden performance in the Philippine National Games in Cebu City two weeks ago, should serve as a perfect tonic for Vilog, who’s priming up for the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia in August.
“This is an emotional win for me since I really need to perform well,” said Vilog while trying to fight back tears. “I’m dedicating this win to The Man Above because He’s the only one who gives me strength each and every day to overcome this adversity.
“I was already at the peak of my condition last December when I was diagnosed that I have a kidney infection. The doctors told me that my illness could go worse so I have no other choice but to stop training. Then I really had to start from scratch again in terms of my conditioning and preparation.”
Sharing the day’s spotlight with Vilog was Salano, 26, who further boosted his stock for a national team slot by topping the men’s 5000m run for his third consecutive gold in the annual meet sponsored by Ayala Corporation, Milo and the Philippine Sports Commission.
Salano, who previously ruled the 3000m steeplechase and the 10,000m run, came up with another solid performance as he finished the 5K run in 15 minutes and 22.94 seconds, way ahead of his closest rivals, Mapua’s Rowel Galvero (15:38.68) and Baguio City’s Erwin Generalao (15:56.62).
National team member Clinton Bautista ruled the men’s 100m hurdles in 14.59 seconds while another Army runner, Jho-An Banayag-Villarma, a former national team standout, stamped her class in the women’s 5000m run, finishing it in 19 minutes and 8.45 seconds.
On Monday morning, Camarines Norte’s Melvin Calano scored a upset in the men’s javelin throw with a heave of 63.55m. National team’s Kenny Gonzales settled for a bridesmaid finish with a 62.29m mark while Army’s Danilo Fresnido at third with 61.31m.
Meanwhile, juniors standout Veruel Verdadero clinched his fourth gold medal by helping Dasmariñas City top the 4x100m mixed relay in 46.55 seconds. But he failed to add another mint after their team just finished fourth overall in the 4x100m boys’ relay.comments