The Philippines sent two athletes to the World Championships in Daegu, long jumpers Marestella Torres and Henry Dagmil. These two are many-time Southeast Asian Games champions and are the nation’s top athletes. Torres won the 2010 Asian Athletics Association long jump crown and has a personal best of 6.68m (2009). Dagmil, the national record holder at 7.99m, is almost an 8.00m jumper.

Unfortunately, Torres finished in twenty-first place in qualifying, with her 6.31m mark (seven centimeters short of her season’s best) failing to propel her to the finals. Dagmil, who has a season’s best of 7.48m, notched three straight fouls in today’s qualifying session. The wind, according to Philips Idowu, was “madness” as it ranged from + 1.7 m/s to – 2.3 m/s. Perhaps that was the reason why Henry got a “NM.”

The ordinary spectator or the cynic would pillory our sporting champions for such ignominious results. After all, the two jumpers are the core of Go Teng Kok’s so-called “Army” which, for years have garnered many a SEA Games haul. But then again, this is the World Championships, not just a mere regional meet. It is important to note that no Filipino has qualified to Daegu by meeting the highly competitive “A” and “B” entry standards. Dagmil and Torres, for all their international experience, were wild cards.

Anything can happen in sports. Remember when Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon as a wild card? I was banking on such a far-flung possibility. Instead of belittling the chances of our athletes, I looked forward to them playing the role of spoil sport. The track & field community in the Philippines is small, by regional standards. Everyone knows the other, even if just by face. I’ve always looked up to Henry and Marestella. Their feats have inspired me to do better in the hurdles. Despite the odds, I kept hoping for a miracle. Regardless of the gargantuan odds, I was saddened by their respective exits.

This staunch, almost fanatical belief is the least I can do for my countrymen. Through my blog and through the internet, I hope to impart to Filipinos an awareness of the sport.

There’s also one thing I can do – to reach for my dreams, no matter how fantastic and far-fetched these are.

At 25-years of age, seeing athletes as old (and younger!) than I am brings forth a certain feeling of longing. That, hey, that could have been me out there competing with the world’s best. “Aim for the stars, and reach the moon.” I’ve always liked this cliche. In the back of my mind, I train to be able to be the fastest hurdler I can ever be – to maximize my potential. I know for a fact that meeting the standard for the 110m high hurdles is next to impossible. But who knows? Maybe in the next coming months, I’ll be able to tap into a previously unknown energy reserve! Miracles do happen so long as you believe.

And belief, mind you, is ever so important.

Perhaps I do take the sport much too seriously. When I look back several years from now, long after a hang up my spikes, I won’t have any regrets of not trying.


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