Fil-Am Stuart bags SEAG hammer throw gold in record-breaking fashion

SINGAPORE - The third time was a charm on Tuesday, July 9, for strapping Filipino-American Caleb Stuart, who, living up to his reputation as the top favorite, ruled the men’s hammer throw of the 28th Singapore Southeast Asian Games in record-breaking fashion at the Singapore National Stadium here.

Despite fouling on his first try, the soft-spoken Stuart captured the gold on his third attempt with a heave of 65.63 meters to shatter the old meet record of 62.23 held by dethroned Thai champion Tanti Pet Chaiya, who  could only muster 62.18 this time and had to settle for silver.

Malaysia’s Jackie Swiew Wong took the bronze (61.18) while Stuart’s teammate Arniel Ferreira, a 4-time SEA Games hammer throw champ, was fourth (60.08).

‘I’m happy that I came here and did what I had to do and win gold for our country,” said the ex- University of Califorinia-Riverside varsity team mainstay.

Stuart bared that his foul on his first try when his foot barely got out of the ring  so to get into a groove “I just made a simple throw in the second attempt so I get into rhythm.”

Gaining confidence with clear throw of 57.75 meters in the second, he left no doubt would garner the gold in third try with 65.63 meters, much to the delight of the small Filipino gallery,  who included his family led by his mother Rowena and track head Philip Ella Juico.

 “I couldn’t have done it without that woman in the white hat,” added Stuart of his mother, who came with her youngest son John and niece Jasina, giving the Philippines its eighth gold in the 11-nation sports-fest.

Bidding to surpass his national record of 68.66 set three months ago, Stuart rattled the cage with his fifth out of six tries, another foul, “because I got a bit excited, although I think It could have been a good throw.”

There were other positive developments early morning with Jeson Ramil Cid, the reigning SEA Games decathlon king, starting his title-retention bid in topping the men’s 100-meter event in  10.82 seconds.

Fil-Am Eric Cray, the country’s first qualifier to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, easily topped his heat in the men’s century sprint in a personal best of 10.28 meters to enter the next round.

Also entering the next round were Kayla Richardson and Princess Joy Griffey, who placed second in their respective heats in the women’s 100-meter run in  11.69  seconds, a personal best, and 11.83 seconds, respectively.

The Philippine could wind up with another athletics gold at 4 p.m. when Ernest John Obiena sees action in the men’s pole vault.

The tall and lanky 19-year-old owns the best leap this year in the Southeast Asian region  of 7.25 meters, .04 meters better than the current SEA Games standard,  set at the Taipei Open two weeks ago. -