DAVAO City — A petite archer in blue and yellow uniform stood in the balance. Legs stretched apart, testing her balance. And when she felt comfortable with her stance, she deliberately reached for an arrow from her quiver, carefully loading it at her bow, then slowly raising it until her left arm is at the level of her shoulders. She drew back the strings with her right hand until it touches her cheek, held her breath, aimed, and release.
As the arrow flew straight to its target, she can’t help it but twitched her lips to make a faint smile.
Then she drew another arrow, loaded it. Aimed. Fire. Repeating the same routine until all six arrows were shot, subsequently followed by three short whistles to signal that archers may now approach the target butts and collect their arrows.
The girl shooter in blue and yellow sheepishly walked a 60-meter distance while engaging a demure conversation with her teammate. Upon reaching her destination, she carefully plucked the arrows one by one. There, you could not miss her body language, which was a jubilant gesture of triumph. She was Crisha Mae Merto, a member of the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (CVRIAA) Secondary Girls Archery team, and owner of five Palarong Pambansa 2019 gold medals.
Make no mistake, and don’t be fooled by her pretty face and charming smiles because this 16-year old stunner from Holy Cross High School in Dumaguete City is a certified dead shot. She could knock out a fly at a distance of 30 meters or more with her bow and arrow. Mizi as her friends called her, just won the gilts in the 30-Meters, 50-Meters, 60-Meters, the 1440 Round Single FITA and the Team Olympic Round competitions that made her MVP in Secondary Archery event.
She is the Katniss Everdeen in real life.
Her five gilts and the more than one gold medals won by five other athletes mattered most when nobody from the Central Visayas athletes in track and field and swimming could top their events.
Winning multiple gold medals alongside Merto was Phoebe Nicole Amistoso who won the Individual Olympic Round gold and teamed-up with Merto and Ferimi Gleam Bajado to capture the Team Olympic Round gold medal. Amistoso also won bronze in the 60-Meters contest.
Badminton jock Hailene Reeze Diaz of Banilad Elementary School of Mandaue City won three gold medals for Central Visayas. She had the Team Tie, the Girls Doubles and Mixed Doubles gold medals to takel home. Winning two gold medals along Diaz was Naeomi Ysabel Gulpany who is also a part of the Team Tie golden finisher and the other half of the Girls Doubles team’s top ranking.
Capping the list of multiple gold contributors from the distaff side was gymnast Leanne Marie Manning of the One World Montessori in Banawa, Cebu City who won two gold medals for Central Visayas. Manning won the Rope Apparatus and the Ribbon competitions in the Rhythmic Gymnastics event. She also won a silver medal in the Individual All-Around competition.
Meanwhile, Lapu-Lapu City’s whiz kid Jerish John Velarde of Marie Ernestine School is the lone multiple gold finisher on the Boys side.
CM Velarde anchored the CVIRAA Elementary chess team to claim the Blitz Team competition, and then won the Standard Individual competition for his second gold. Velarde also had a silver medal in the Blitz individual competition and a bronze in the Standard Team Competition.
The other top performers for Central Visayas in the Davao City Palarong Pambansa includes; Michael Jan Stephen Inigo of Bayawan City (Elem. Boys Blitz Team gold, Standard team bronze and Blitz Individual bronze), Deveaine Therese Gauran and Shara Louise Paliwag of Negros Oriental (Elementary Girls doubles gold in Tennis), Gian Arante of Banilad Elem. Sch. (Elem. Badminton Mixed Doubles gold, Team Tie bronze), Football team that is made up of Christopher Abao, Jared Almendras, Lord Alovera, Asher Amora, Kurt Barro, Kenneth Bilocura, Lexter Conde, James Comon, Robert Daanoy, Renzo Enriquez, Ezekielle Lao, Allister Manlosa, Eugene Molleno, Fernando Pasco, Marco Quiblatin, Ethan Roxas, Mark Anthony Talingting and David Lance Ybanez won the Elementary Football gold medal. Unfortunately, football gold medals count only one.
Denz Aaron Mayol of Cebu City (47 to 51kgs), Elmer Tape of Bohol (55-60kgs) and Anthony Cris Luna of Cebu City (60-65kgs) were the gold medallists for Region 7 in Secondary Boys Arnis Full-Contact competition, Gerwin Asilo of Bohol won the gold medal in the Light Welterweight division gold in Secondary Boys Boxing, Jonjie Enyong of Bayawan City, Negros Oriental copped the gold medal in the Cadet Boys -46kgs division in Secondary Boys Wrestling competition.
On the Secondary Girls side the other golden finishers were Maria Ella Alcoseba of Lapu-Lapu City won the gold in Bantamweight Arnis Full Contact event, Marianne Alegado of the University of the Visayas won the gold medal in the Rhythmic Gymnastics Ball competition and Christine Chrisler Dantes of Bayawan City topped the Cadet Girls -44kgs event in Wrestling.