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The Golden Bronze
February 2, 2011Posted by on
I was on my fifth year with the college team when I first encountered Paco. My first impression of the incoming college freshman was his being undersized. Even though he possessed the heft (he did have a well-built set of guns!) vertically, Razon was quite lacking. In contrast to established junior stars like Mike Mendoza and the Unso brothers, Paco wasn’t heavily recruited coming into college. In fact, he had no high school track & field experience at all.
After being hounded by an elbow injury last season, Razon came into his final year of UAAP eligibility as the dark horse. In his four years with the college team, the podium had been an elusive prize.
In light of our five year age gap, Paco and I became teammates for just one UAAP season. Off the track, I hardly knew the guy. But we remained in touch in the subsequent years, talking mostly about our favorite track & field topics.
Strangely though, I never had the chance to watch Paco actually compete. In his first year, I was too busy with my own event (held at the same time as the javelin) to watch my other teammates compete. In the next two editions of the collegiate meet, I neglected the javelin competition to watch the sprint hurdles. Coming into UAAP 73, I made it a point to finally watch Paco in action.
And I did not go home disappointed.
In one last herculean heave, Paco threw the javelin as if his life depended on it. The people on the Ateneo side collectively gasped as the implement remained suspended in mid-air, as if frozen in time. Paco knew something big was afoot. It was a good throw, to say the least.
As soon as he learned that he had broken his previous personal best by a massive five meters (48.54m), all hell broke loose. From fifth place, Razon the underdog overtook his teammate and good friend, Miguel Sibayan, for the bronze.
In the next five minutes or so, Paco the dark horse whopped it up like a man possessed. He shouted to the high heavens, hugged and slapped hands with teammates and competitors alike. There were no haughty displays of arrogance, what transpired was pure exaltation at having achieved the improbable.
We were all cheering at the bleachers, especially those who knew Paco – who had been with the guy through thick and thin. And I swore I saw Geelo Arayata’s (Paco’s fellow senior and training buddy) eyes glisten amidst the afternoon sun. Said Arayata in Paco’s Facebook wall: “I told you you could hit 48m! Only the two of us believed it. The others just saw it.”
Indeed, the beauty of sport, as in life, lies in the unexpected.
I spent the good part of the last decade watching the UAAP athletics. If I could highlight one particular moment amidst all the unforgettable scenes I’ve witnessed through the years, Paco Razon’s golden bronze, without a doubt, tops them all.