By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN, Contributing Editor
GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island–Filipino top seed surfer Nilbie Blancada failed to make it to the finals of the 9th Siargao International Women’s Surfing Cup to the dismay of huge home crowd, a feat which could have earned her a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Blancada was defeated by Australian Philippa Anderson in the semifinal round who later went on to bag the championship crown after she defeated fellow compatriot Mikaela Greene in the grueling 35-minute finals in fun three-foot waves at the perfect right-hand reef of the world-famous Cloud 9 in this scenic island.
Greene was leading in most part of finals match only to be outplayed in the remaining 10 minutes. She controlled the heat for the majority of time consistently posting mid-range scores only to be caught by surprise when Anderson took off on a decent set wave and got to work twice in a row, first an 8.17 and in a few minutes a 9 point putting her Siargao’s best record of 17.17 points.
“The level of competition was tough but I waited for the right moment. It sits well and kept my confidence which was high, “Anderson said adding that she sees an upgrade of her international rating of World Surf League from eight to probably six or seven.
On her way to the final, Anderson had to overcome local standout Nilbie Blancada, a tough task with the large home crowds cheering on the Cloud 9 specialist.
“I was nervous in my Semifinal competing against Nilbie (Blancada) who knows this wave so well and she had the crowd behind her and that was a tough semi to win and a really cool experience,” Anderson continued.
For her part, Greene said it was tough luck for her that she cannot find a good wave. “I was left waiting for the waves but I did not come. Philippa is a great surfer,” she said.
General Luna Mayor Jaime Russilon said he is hoping that the WSL would still find a way that top notch Filipino surfers like Blancada can still become part of the Olympics qualifying series with her good standing at the Asian Women’s Championships.
Blancada will be joining other international surfing events to redeem herself from her unsuccessful finals bid in the five-day world event here.
Russillon, regarded here as the father of Philippine surfing, vowed to raise the prizes for next year’s women’s surfing competition to 15,000 US Dollars and the bigger International Surfing competition this September to 75,000 US Dollars.
“We will up the ante on the prizes of these upcoming global surfing sports. I am proud that there is still large influx of tourists coming here despite of the Bohol incident,” Russilon said.
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