Barriga mauls Italian, makes last 16
Mark Anthony Barriga, the smallest Filipino fighter to grace the lightest of boxing’s 10 divisions at 5-foot flat, turned the face of Italian Manuel Cappai into a veritable punching bag and pulled off a 17-7 win in a light-flyweight bout at 10,000-seat Excel Arena east of the city, Giving away six inches in height against the crafty Italian, who fights like defending champion Zou Shiming of China, the 19-year-old Barriga counter-punched his way to a 5-2 lead in the opening round, before another barrage midway through the second gave the Filipino teener a 9-4 lead going into the last round.
The Italian went for broke in the final round, but it only sealed his doom as Barriga continued unleashing punches in bunches to score the 10-point win amid wild celebration from a small crowd of Filipinos cheering him on at the sidelines.
Barriga’s next assignment may be against the rated Birzhan Zhakypov, who is heavily favored to beat Jeremy Beccu of France.
Meanwhile, shooter Paul Brian Rosario floundered in the second of three rounds in the qualifying stage of the men’s skeet under windy conditions, finishing with an aggregate of 66 points to land 32nd in a field of 36, ending his first foray into the biggest stage of ‘em all in disappointment at the Royal Artillery barracks range.
Also unfortunate was weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who missed her three attempts in the clean and jerk of the 58-kilogram division and crashed out in a painful defeat that left her in tears at the Excel Arena.
There are still two rounds left in the qualifying, but Rosario is too far behind to take a crack at the sixth and last championship slot, even if he produces two perfect 25s on the final day of this event expected to be dominated again by the ‘’usual suspects.’’
For Rosario to make it, 30 of the shooters should while away their time at Hyde Park or pay London landmarks a visit instead of showing up at the old range on Tuesday. Otherwise, it’s all over for this young man.
‘’I am terribly disappointed to shoot that 19. Hindi naging smooth ang movement ko sa mid-second round. Parang nanigas,’’ coach Gay Corral quoted Rosario as saying.
With Team Philippines officials, headed by Philippine Olympic Committee president Peping Cojuangco, shooting head Mikee Romero and International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Frank Elizalde watching, Rosario got off to a good start with a 22 using his old, but reliable Perazzi shotgun, only to come up with a poor 19 in the next round that did him in.
Not even a perfect 25 in the third round—a first by a Filipino in Olympic history, according to Romero—could put Rosario within striking distance of the leaders, headed by the steady Vincent Hancock of the United States, who posted a 74-point total built around a 25 in the first and third rounds.
A Malabon businessman, who’s into his first Olympics, Rosario was doing well and looking good in the early goings of the second, until he missed three straight targets in a sudden drop of form that left him sitting on a bench for a long time and pondering what went wrong after the round.
‘’It was the first time that he shot a 19 since we arrived here for the training camp,’’said Corral, adding the windy weather was not much of a problem for the bespectacled father of a nine-year-old daughter. ‘’We trained under the same condition during the camp.’’
‘’He was shooting well until that collapse in the mid second. It’s good he was perfect in the last. That somehow lessened his frustration. He’s still young and I know he’ll recover from this,’’ said Romero.
In another low moment, Diaz fumbled her three attempts in the clean and jerk as she went for 118 kilos. She lifted 92 in her first try in the snatch, but missed as she attempted for 97 kgs in her second try.
The Beijing Olympics veteran made a 97 in her final attempt in the snatch, which bettered her personal best of 95, but paled in comparison to the Olympic record of 108 of China’s Li Xueying, who went on to retain the title after a 138 in the clean and jerk and a 248 total.
Then came the clean and jerk stage, where everything went wrong for the poor Diaz.
The fifth in a brood of seven by a tricyle driver in Zamboanga City, Diaz was so devastated after the debacle that she cried as she headed out of the stage. She went straight to her room at the Athletes’ Village after the 30-minute bus drive from Excel, never to come out until it was dinnertime.
“Masakit po ‘yung pagkatalo. Sa training camp , kayang kaya ko po ‘yung 118. Pero dito, nahirapan ako ’ said Diaz as coach Tony Agustin, weightlifting body head Monico Puentevella and other Team PH officials comforted her.
Diaz had every reason to feel bad. After all, she could easily lift 123 kilos in the jerk during their training camp in Guildford, England, but could not do so when she tried to hoist 118 kgs three times in the tournament proper.
Rosario and Diaz became the second and third members of the 11-man Team PH to fall by the wayside, the first being swimmer Jessie Lacuna, whose time of 1 minute and 52.91 seconds was good only for 36th place among 40 entries in the 200-m freestyle.
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