Filipinos hit pay­dirt in SEA wrestling

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS - By JOAQUIN HEN­SON

The fu­ture looks bright for Philip­pine wrestling if the re­sults of the re­cent 11th South­east Asian Ju­nior and Cadet Cham­pi­onships in Ray­ong City, Thai­land, are an in­di­ca­tion as Alan Ar­cilla bagged the 45-kilo­gram gold in the 17-un­der freestyle and Kai Guing­ona took top hon­ors in the 60-kilo­gram 20-un­der beach com­pe­ti­tion.

Aside from the twin golds, An­thony Ar­cilla set­tled for the sil­ver in the 57-kilo­gram 20-un­der freestyle while Guing­ona added sil­vers in the 60-kilo­gram 20-un­der Greco-Ro­man and 61-kilo­gram 20-un­der freestyle di­vi­sions. The three wrestlers were ac­com­pa­nied to Thai­land by coach Michael Baletin and Wrestling As­so­ci­a­tion of the Philip­pines di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions Mike Guing­ona.

The ju­nior divi­sion is 20-un­der while the cadet divi­sion is 17-un­der. Wrestlers from Viet­nam, In­done­sia, Laos, Chi­nese-Taipei, Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land and the Philip­pines par­tic­i­pated in the April 2-8 event staged by the Thai Wrestling As­so­ci­a­tion un­der the Sports Au­thor­ity of Thai­land. Viet­nam had the largest del­e­ga­tion with 84 ath­letes and four Rus­sian coaches. The Philip­pines had only three en­tries but each had at least one podium fin­ish with no less than a sil­ver.

Alan Ar­cilla, 15, has been in the na­tional pool since 2017 and will com­pete in the Asian cadet qual­i­fiers for the Youth Olympics in Tashkent, Uzbek­istan, on May 9-13. The Youth Olympics will be held in Buenos Aires on Oct. 6-18. An­thony Ar­cilla and Guing­ona, both 18, are be­ing groomed to join the se­nior team for the SEA Games here late next year.

Alan beat two Thais and a Vietnamese for the 45-kilo­gram cadet gold in Thai­land. Kai de­feated a Sin­ga­porean, Thai, an­other Thai by in­jury de­fault and a Vietnamese for the gold in the 60-kilo­gram ju­nior beach class. He lost to Vietnamese wrestlers in the fi­nals of the 60-kilo­gram Greco-Ro­man ju­nior and 61-kilo­gram freestyle events.

“Viet­nam has full gov­ern­ment sup­port,” said Mike Guing­ona. “In­done­sia con­cen­trated on cadets while Laos and Chi­nese-Taipei fo­cused on the heav­ier weight classes. The suc­cess of the Vietnamese pro­gram is at­trib­ut­able to a num­ber of fac­tors, pri­mar­ily, they have in­vested in their youth by sup­port­ing their de­vel­op­ment through re­gional and in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions. They have also been able to ac­quire skills through the hir­ing of Rus­sian res­i­dent coaches who live in Viet­nam and learn to com­mu­ni­cate with and un­der­stand their Vietnamese play­ers.”

Guing­ona said youth de­vel­op­ment is lack­ing in the Philip­pines. “There is no sup­port for youth wrestling,” he said. “With­out that sup­port, the team lacks a true feeder pro­gram. The youth pro­gram feeds the se­nior na­tional team with skilled and ex­pe­ri­enced wrestlers. In the past, the Philip­pines’ strat­egy for suc­cess has been to send its best play­ers abroad to get train­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, the only ones who ben­e­fit are those who are al­ready on the team. It doesn’t cre­ate op­por­tu­nity for oth­ers to im­prove. What we need is a co­or­di­nated ef­fort of grassroots de­vel­op­ment.”

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