INCHEON, South Korea. — With flag and country beckoning anew, the former girl wonder of Philippine archery just could not call it quits.
She even quit her job at the Philippine Sports Commission, as manager of one of the venues owned and supervised by the agency, just so she could concentrate on her preparations for the 17th Asian Games here.
That’s Joan Chan Tabanag, who burst into the local sporting scene way back in 1985, aged 21, and won multiple gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games. Now 49, she is back in action anew, vying for a medal in the compound event that is making its debut in the games here.
“I had to resign to prepare for these Asian Games,” Tabanag said, whose multiple SEA Games medals came in the recurve, the Olympic event of the sport. She shifted to the compound event in 2007.
A veteran of several world championships, Tabanag has religiously honed her skills in the compound event while working on the side as a coach and trainer mostly to kids of expatriates at the posh Manila Polo Club.
“It pays (good) but the important thing is I keep to practicing the sport I truly love,” said Tabanag, who has never won a medal of any color in the Asiad.
Before coming here, Tabanag finished third behind two Canadians in the international category of the US Open in July, sealing her spot for the national team here.
“I sacrificed a lot for these Games. I am here ‘not for the heck of it’ but to compete,” Tabanag said as she and six of her teammates were to board the Philippine Airlines flight for Incheon past midnight on Saturday.
Now a mother of two daughters, the eldest of whom is about to complete her MBA back home, Tabanag is the leader and inspiration of the seven-member Philippine archery team that will start vying for the medals in the individual ranking round for men and women on Tuesday at the Gyeyang Asiad Archery Field.
The team includes four entries in the men’s division—Ian Patrick Chipeco, Earl Benjamin Yap, Jose Ferdinand Adriano and Paul Marton de la Cruz.
“The men are strong,” Tabanag said. “We know we are strong. But we also know that there are stronger teams in the field so we have to concentrate even more and raise our confidence.”
With Tabanag on the women’s squad are Abbigail Tindugan and Amaya Amparo Cojuangco, who are all veterans of the SEA Games.
The recurve is an Olympic event that utilizes the so-called traditional bow with a single string. The compound, on the other hand, is the more powerful of the two events with the bow characterized by several strings with pulleys and is typically much smaller than the recurve.