When I went back to Rizal a couple of weeks ago, I was a bit puzzled at the lack of people running in the track. The recreational runners and youth athletes were nowhere to be seen. Except for a few national athletes, the stadium was practically deserted. I dismissed the observation and went about my training.

After shooing away a bunch of kids loitering by the football field, a security guard approached me whilst I was doing hurdle drills. She asked if I were an outsider. “I’m with the national team,” I replied, not wanting to abbreviate my training session. I asked Sheena about this and her answer confirmed my worst fear. Rizal is closed to the general public, as it caters exclusively to national athletes for the time being.

Read: “Thoughts on the Rizal Memorial Stadium”

My heart sank. This means shifting my weekend training base to the worn out track of Ultra from the comfortable, athletics-centric aura of Rizal. I could have continued lying between my teeth. I wasn’t raised that way, mind you. If the PSC deems it fit to close off Rizal to help our athletes better prepare for the SEA Games (or due to the renovation controversy), I’m okay with that – whatever the true reason is. It’s a privilege our national athletes deserve.

Besides, it’s not like I’ve been deprived of a training venue. Ultra is still available, despite the poor state of its synthetic track. I don’t know when I’ll be able to train in Rizal again. Until then, I have to make do with what I have and make adjustments to my schedule.

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