MANILA - Filipina campaigners failed to advance beyond the women’s team and individual all-around qualifying round after succumbing to superior opposition at the start of the 7th Asian Seniors Artistic Gymnastics Championships at Nimibutr Gymnasium in Bangkok on Thursday.
The nationals bowed to powerhouses China, North Korea and Japan, which dominated the day’s events, underscoring their gap with the best in the continent and the work that needs to be done before the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur this August.
For a while, their hopes were up when Filipina-American Kaitlin de Guzman surprisingly topped the floor exercise with a score of 12.20 points after the first subdivision or bracket in the trip supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
However, De Guzman, daughter of former SEA Games gold medalist Cintamoni de Guzman, plunged deeper in the rankings and eventually fell by the wayside as the Chinese, North Koreans and Japanese took the floor.
Liu Tingting captured the individual all-around gold medal.
Only the top eight finishers, with a maximum of two gymnasts per country, in the all-around event will advance to the individual apparatus finals scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Apparently rattled in her first outing for the Philippines, De Guzman was uncharacteristically sloppy in her pet event, the uneven bars, garnering 11.45 points, far below the 14.20 points she scored in the Procter and Gamble National Championships in St. Louis, Missouri held in June last year.
Her P&G tournament score was even better than Chinese individual all-around champion Liu’s top-scoring 13.45 points in the uneven bars here.
The Fil-Am’s tally then was good for No. 11 overall among the 33 entries throughout the US in the competition meant for elite American gymnasts eyeing a spot on Team USA.
Although holding dual citizenship, De Guzman has decided to compete for her mother’s home country in international competitions.
Still, the national team rookie had the best score among the Filipino bets with a total tally of 45.60 points, counting her output in the vault and balance beam events, followed by Singapore SEA Games veteran Cristina Onofre (44.45) and Erin Evangelista (41.20).
National coach Jasmin Ortega admitted that her wards still had much to work on in their bid to improve on their bronze-medal finish in the team in the Singapore SEA Games two years ago.
“This is basically a new squad and we really wanted to measure ourselves against our Southeast Asian rivals,” Ortega said. “We need to make some adjustments but we still have enough time before Malaysia.”
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)