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Western Visayas appeared headed towards retaining the medal-rich athletics even as powerhouse National Capital region continued to dominate the swimming competition in the 2008 Palarong Pambansa at the sprawling Ramon V. Mitra Jr. Sports Complex here.

The Ilonggos already wrapped a total of 11 golds in athletics, which they ruled both in the high school and elementary level last year in Koronadal City.

As of press deadline, NCR, the overall champion the past two years, could manage to clinch only seven so far with only two remaining days left in the multi-event meet.
Calabarzon has five golds for a distant third followed by Central Visayas with 4 and three each for the Bicol region, Central Luzon and the Cotabato Regional Athletic Association (CRAA).

The NCR effort was led by Jose Renato Unso, who reaffirmed his supremacy in the secondary boys 110-m hurdles with a time of 15.7, while Isidro de Prado followed suit a few minutes later by ruling the 400-m run in 49.7 seconds.

Unso and Del Prado, both sons of prominent former members of the RP national athletics team led NCR with two golds apiece.
Vienna Mae Banebane was Western Visayas\' first double gold medalist when she won the secondary 400-m run with a time of 59.5 seconds. Her first came from secondary 400-m hurdles (1:05.2) on Wednesday.

But NCR annexed six more golds in the yesterday in the third day of the aquatics event for a total of 23 golds already, a feat, which made the NCR mermaids a runaway winner in the competition.

A far second behind NCR in swimming was Calabarzon with four, while Central Visayas and the Bicol region have two each. Western Visayas has only one so far courtesy of Margaret Mallo in the elementary girls 50-m breastroke with a time of 39.22 seconds.

Fahad Alkhalde and Denice Veronica Hong are NCR\'s top performers with three golds each followed by Dorothy Hong, Jose Gio Palencia, and Patricia Yam with two each and one for Frances May Cabrera.
Still one record was shattered in athletics, but already six in swimming at presstime. The latest record breakers were the NCR team of Roanna Florence Yu, Carmina Quilala, Patricia Yam and Winona Yu in the secondary girls 4x50-m freestyle relay with a time of 1:57.05.

The other day were Joseph Ventilla, Jovic Ventilla, Juan Carlo Reyes and Kevin Claveris, who set 1:56.02 in the elementary boys 200-m freestyle relay, which is better than the 1:57.77 previously held by Western Mindanao in 1998.

Bicol\'s Wilfredo Sunglao Jr., Juan Pantila Jr., Miko Barces and John Brylle Zapanta made 1:44.37 in the secondary boys 200-m freestyle relay to erase the old 1:45.39 set by the NCR team in 1998 in Bacolod City. (Frank Calapre-Manila Times)


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