Young Pinoy athletes make their mark in SEA Games
POOLED REPORT FROM PSA
NAY PYI TAW – A young group of athletes is making its presence felt, ably taking over the torch and passed on by their more seasoned peers and raising it high.
The 27th Southeast Asian Games is a concrete proof as the likes of Archand Christian Bagsit, Christopher Ulboc, Eric Cray and Jesson Ramil Cid each won a gold medal to upstage their grizzled, more experienced teammates in carrying the fight for Team Philippines.
Bagsit kicked off the gold rush for the young turks when he ruled the men’s 400m run while Filipino-American Cray flew all the way from SanAntonio, Texas to claim the crown in men’s 400m hurdles. Then Ulboc and Cid made their mark, winning the men’s 3000m steeplechase and decathlon in impressive fashion.
One of the squad’s senior statesmen, Rene Herrera, couldn’t help but smile over the performance of his new teammates – all of them in their early 20s and in their first SEA Games appearance.
“Ibang grupo na ng mga atleta ito,” he said. “Basta disiplina lang at focus sa ensayo at laro, malayo ang mararating nila. Malalakas at mababait naman ang mga iyan kaya lahat posible.”
The 34-year-old Herrera, for one, could attest to the brilliance of his new teammates after seeing his 10-year reign in steeplechase snapped by the title-hungry Ulboc.
“Madami na akong nararamdaman,” he said, Ulboc within earshot away. “Kaya sinabi ko na kung hindi ko man kayanin, siya (Ulboc) ang dapat kumuha. Basta hindi dapat mawala sa Pilipinas ang ginto sa steeplechase.”
Ulboc said he owes everything to Herrera.
In fact, he wasn’t supposed to qualify in the SEA Games if not for the encouragement of the man he considers his mentor.
“Siya ang nagtuturo sa akin ng tamang diskarte. Hilaw pa ako ng pumasok ako sa national team pero nu’ng nakasama ko siya, tinuruan niya ako ng tamang diskaste at kung papano manalo sa international (tournament). Kaya kung kami man ang papalit sa kanila, tatanggapin namin iyun. Ipagpapatuloy namin ang kanilang mga nasimulan,” said Ulboc.
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