Category Archives: Ateneo

Weidenfeller and Kehl

While browsing the history of the German Men’s National Football Team, I came across a section about Philipp Lahm not wanting to relinquish the captain’s armband to Michael Ballack. This happened amidst the 2010 World Cup competition, when the long-time Die Mannschaft captain, Ballack, was unable to play because of an injury.

Still reeling from Borussia Dortmund’s tragic UEFA Champions League exit, the aforesaid squabble came into mind when I saw Dortmund’s Roman Weidenfeller beckon to Sebastian Kehl to come up front. Kehl refused the goalkeeper’s offer of the captain’s armband as the beaten finalists made their way up the stadium to get their second place medals. Kehl is captain of The Black Yellows but was an unused substitute in the final.

Weidenfeller’s attitude towards Kehl could not have been more different to Lahm’s treatment of Ballack.  It’s refreshing to see such gestures of magnanimity still prevalent, even at the highest levels of sport.

By Joboy Quintos

“Miguel White (1909 – 1942): Olympic 400m Hurdles Bronze Medalist” by Joboy Quintos

I was a nineteen year-old college sophomore when I first read about Miguel White. Despite the best of my efforts, I was stuck in a rut, unable to go below sixteen seconds in the 110 high’s and qualify for the finals. I spent a considerable amount of time poring over athletics books, to further my knowledge of the sport and to get a much-needed dose of inspiration amidst those troubled times.

I came across a mildewed book about Filipino sporting legends. The Philippines had won a handful of medals in the Olympic Games, a couple of those by track & field athletes. I was awestruck. It turned out that Philippine sports, athletics in particular, had a storied past. I found the exploits of Simeon Toribio and White more interesting than rampant politicking often featured in contemporary sports pages.

There were more material written about Toribio, who eventually became a lawyer and a congressman after his athletics days. Miguel White’s story, however, was shrouded in mystery. White had an American father and a Filipina mother. He competed for the Philippines at the Berlin Olympics, winning the 400m low hurdles bronze. He could have performed with equal distinction at the 110m, but fell in the qualifying heats, unable to finish. Unlike Toribio, who lived until he was sixty-four, White died during the Second World War.

In the past few years, I tried in vain to look for clips of White’s Olympic medal winning effort. Photos were just as scarce. A few days earlier, I stumbled upon a treasure trove Olympic programs (from the 1896 Athens Olympics all the way to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games).

White, Hardin and Loaring on the podium. A proud moment for the Philippines! (Photo from the 1936 Berlin Olympics Program/LA84 Foundation)

Lo and behold, there were photos of Miguel White, as well as the results of the qualifying heats. The Olympic program even included descriptions of the race conditions and the lane placements. For the athletics nerd that I am, these were priceless!

White went up against a quality field, among them Glenn Hardin of the United States, the world record holder at 50.6s. The Filipino topped the third heat in qualifying, stopping the clock in 53.4s, ahead of the eventual silver medalist, John Loaring (54.3s) of Canada. The American also qualified with ease, submitting a time five-tenths slower than White’s.

Miguel White from the Philippine Islands was the fastest hurdler in qualifying. In this day and age where Filipino athletes are hard-pressed to meet the Olympic “B” standard, reading about this was surreal! In the semi-finals, White (53.4s) finished behind Hardin (53.2s) in the first heat, securing a spot in the finals.

The first bend. Hardin and White are at the outermost lanes. (Photo from the 1936 Berlin Olympics Program/LA84 Foundation)

The world record holder stamped his class on the rest of the field. At the last hurdle, Hardin was a full stride from Loaring and White, who were locked in a tight battle for second place. The Canadian (52.7s) edged out White (52.8s) by a tenth of second.

Miguel White had emulated Simeon Toribio’s high jump bronze from  the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.

A good shot of the final flight of hurdles. Hardin leads, with Loaring and White battling it out for the silver. (Photo from the 1936 Berlin Olympics Program/LA84 Foundation)

It is quite unfortunate that the Olympic feats of Toribio and White have been practically forgotten. Philippine sports may be in the doldrums, but perhaps looking back at our golden past might inspire a new generation of Filipino athletes.

Results (screenshots from the 1936 Berlin Olympics Program/LA84 Foundation):

1.) First Round:

Semi-Finals:

Final:

The Victors:

Article by Joboy Quintos

Source:

1936 Berlin Olympics Program (from the LA84 Foundation website)

The “Last King of Straddle:” Vladimir Yaschenko (Владимир Ильич Ященко Володимир Ященко) by Joboy Quintos

The high jump, aside from the hurdles of course, is one of my favorite athletics events. Although I have no jumping background at all, I appreciate the event as a student of the sport. I take pleasure in watching an athlete gracefully soar over the bar – rejoice at each successful clearance or wince at each missed try.

In the weeks leading to UAAP 2010, I stumbled upon clips of Soviet high jump legend Vladimir (Volodomir) Yashchenko (Владимир Ильич Ященко Володимир Ященко). I was two years removed from my last hurdles race at that time. Although I had dreams and daydreams about athletics, a return to the sport was nothing but far-flung longings.

Those historic clips of the Last King of Straddle did much to get me back into a track and field mindset. Growing up in a time where the Fosbury Flop rules supreme, seeing the lanky yet powerful Yashchenko clear heights near 2.40m evoked feelings of wide-eyed awe. Perhaps it was the similarity of the technique to hurdling that piqued my interest, or my soft-spot for nostalgic images of a bygone age. The straddle is a forgotten technique. Long before the Dick Fosbury revolutionized the event in 1968, various techniques of the straddle were utilized.

Yashchenko was the last straddler to hold a world record. As a junior, he broke Dwight Stones’ world mark in a dual meet between the United States and the former Soviet Union. Two years later at age 20, the lanky Ukrainian flew to 2.35m to rewrite his own all-time mark. A tragic knee injury prematurely ended Yashchenko’s jumping days months later. In the subsequent years, the champion succumbed to alcoholism and depression. In 1999, Yashchenko died in penury at age 40.

Read Giorgio Reineri’s article on Yaschenko here

A year since I made the momentous decision to return to the sport I love, I can say in all honesty that I changed for the better. Even if my chances of making the 2012 London Olympics or at least going below the 14-second barrier are minutely small, it feels great to be back.

Yashchenko’s inspiring albeit tragic story was the catalyst. It made me realize that life – especially an athlete’s competitive days – is much too short to dwell upon past mistakes.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Source:

IAAF article of Yaschenko

“Freaks of Nature: Usain Bolt and Michael Johnson” by Joboy Quintos

In the sprints, an athlete aims to reach the finish line as fast as possible. Hence, he/she limits the time amount of time on the ground by being explosive. From the track literature I’ve read throughout the years, I’ve learned that stride frequency is genetic, while stride length can be improved through hard work. A sprinter can do as much explosive drills, plyometrics and Olympic lifts as humanly possible, but one’s stride frequency and explosiveness is limited by nature’s genetic endowment of fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Stride length and stride frequency are the major pillars of sprinting. A sprinter strives to achieve a balance between the two. To perfect the sprinting form, an athlete goes through a cacophony of running drills to master each facet of the deceptively simple picture-perfect sprinting form:

  1. Back erect
  2. Shoulders relaxed
  3. Jaw relaxed
  4. Arms pumping below eye level
  5. Hands relaxed, not tensed
  6. Knees pumping high like pistons
  7. The heel not going beyond one’s butt
  8. Toes dorsi-flexed

Among the elite sprinters, I like respective forms of 9-time Olympic Gold medalist Carl Lewis, 2007 Osaka 100m/200m World Champion Tyson Gay and 4-time Olympic Silver medalist Frankie Fredericks the best.

Among all the sprinters of the orthodox school, Usain Bolt epitomizes the synergy of stride frequency and stride length the best. At 6’5 (1.95m), Bolt is the tallest elite sprinter to date (Although the retired German 400m specialist Ingo Schultz is taller at 2.05m, his major achievement pale in comparison to Bolt!).  Naturally, Bolt has longer legs and longer strides than most other sprinters at the world level. His height does not prove a hindrance, however, as he seems to possess a degree of explosiveness more than sufficient to outclass his shorter competitors.

Bolt seems to have ample endowments of BOTH stride length and stride frequency, despite the apparent instability of his upper body relative to other sprinters – a minor aberration to this purveyor of speed!

At 1.85m (6’1), Michael Johnson is not as physically impressive as Bolt. Pound per pound, however, Johnson is more impressive than Bolt with the former’s erstwhile 200m world record of 19.32s and current 400m WR of 43.18s. His arched back, low knee lift and short strides defies textbook sprinting form.

Johnson relies on sheer explosiveness, leg power alone and out-of-this-world speed endurance, in light of his relatively shorter strides.

Usain Bolt may be the current toast of the athletics world (despite his recent loss to Gay). Bolt has single-handedly lifted the sport on his Zeus-like back. He is every inch the sport’s premiere icon, with his stellar 100m and 200m world records. But then again, there will come a time when someone just as tall and fast as Bolt, would emulate his feats.

The chances of another maverick who epitomizes Johnson’s sprinting style is even more remote.

Simply put, if there’s a index which rates one’s ranking in the freak of nature scale, Johnson ranks higher than Bolt in my book. But on the showmanship index? Bolt is up there along with likes of Shaq!

P.S.

Check out MJ’s reaction to Usain’s world record! This is priceless.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Photo credits:

ABC

“Simeon Toribio (1905-1969): A World-Class High Jumper” by Joboy Quintos

It has been eighty-years since Simeon Toribio won the high jump bronze medal from the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Ask any Filipino about Toribio and chances are, you’ll be met with a blank stare. I know for a fact that athletics in the Philippines is nothing more than a fringe sport. The days of Lydia de Vega are long gone. And despite the best efforts of our national athletes, the sport is hard pressed to break into mainstream consciousness.

Perhaps a look back into our storied athletics history could bring back a sense of pride, and lift our collective desensitation from decades of being sporting minnows.

I first read about the exploits of Toribio and Miguel White back in college, through the fine book entitled “Philippine Sporting Greats.” White, winner of the 400m hurdles bronze in Berlin, died during the Japanese invasion at the early stages of the Second World War. The Bohol-born Toribio, fortunately, survived that terrible episode and lived well into his sixties.

Toribio was a renaissance man in every sense of the word. In my readings of Jorge Afable’s “Philippine Sports Greats”, I was amazed at how he balanced a full-time job with a no non-sense athletics training regimen.[1] In his heyday, the tall Toribio reigned supreme in Asian high jumping circles. In a thirteen year period spanning from 1921 to 1934,[2] the Filipino champion won a staggering five gold medals in Far Eastern Games, the precursor to today’s Asian Games.

The Filipino made his Olympic debut in Antwerp back in 1928.[3] Bob King won gold with a superior mark of 1.94m.[4] The next four jumpers, Toribio included, had identical jumps of 1.91m.[5] However, Toribio missed out on the bronze in the ensuing jump-off.[6]

He reached the pinnacle of his career in Los Angeles, where he sailed over 1.97m to win bronze. The 1932 Summer Olympics was the Philippines’ most successful foray into the World’s Greatest Show, with three bronze medals. Teofilo Yldefonso snared his second Olympic third place finish in as many attempts, while boxer Jose Villanueva grabbed the bronze medal in the bantamweight division.

The high jump competition in Los Angeles was a long drawn battle, taking four hours according to Afable. With the top four jumpers all tied with clearances of 1.97m, another jump-off was held to determine the placings.[7] The competitors all failed to clear 2.007m and 1.99m.[8] The gold was awarded to Canada’s Daniel McNaughton, who had a first-time clearance over 1.97m, [9] while Bob Van Osdel of the United States took the silver.

Toribio at the 1936 Los Angeles Olympics. (Photo from the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics Program/LA84 Foundation)

Afable wrote about a peculiar competition rule from that era that required athletes to stay at the competition grounds during the entire event, and opined that had Toribio not been burdened by the “call of nature,” he could have cleared 2.007m.[10] Coming into the Games, the Filipino had a personal best of 2.00m set in 1930. Perhaps because of discomfort, the then 26-year old Toribio took three attempts[11] to negotiate 1.94m and 1.97m – heights well within his capabilities.

A helpful Japanese coach lent a blanket for Toribio to cover himself in as he relieved his bladder!

The world record at that time was at 2.03m, with the Olympic record at 1.98m.

McNaughton, Toribio, and Van Osdel. (Photo from the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics Program/LA84 Foundation)

Toribio competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, his third Olympiad, but finished outside the medals. During the War, he narrowly escaped arrest by the Kempeitai when a Japanese officer saw one of Toribio’s mementoes from an athletics competition in Japan (If my memory serves me right, it was a memento from the 1923 Far Eastern Games in Osaka. I’d have to verify this by reading “Philippine Sports Greats” again).[12] Since it was the Japanese emperor’s birthday, the Kempeitai officer spared Toribio.[13]

The Filipino high jumper went on to become a congressman in his native Bohol, serving his constituents for 12 years.

Eighty-two years since Simeon Toribio set his 2.00m personal best, the Philippine high jump record has improved by a mere 17cm. Nowadays, it is a rarity to see a Filipino athlete qualify for an outright Olympics slot, much less make it to the top eight. It is sad to note that in local collegiate- and national-level track & field meetings today, a 2.00m clearance is still deemed competitive.

Curing the ills of Philippine athletics will be a hard fought struggle. Let us remember – and honor – our past heroes, and draw inspiration from their world-beating feats.
Results:
Article by Joboy Quintos
References:

  1. Afable, Jorge (1972). “Philippine Sports Greats.”
  2. “Simeon Toribio.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simeon_Toribio. Retrieved 8-19-2012.
  3. Afable 1972.
  4. “Athletics at the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Games: Men’s High Jump.” http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/1932/ATH/mens-high-jump.html. Retrieved 8-19-2012.
  5. “Simeon Toribio.”
  6. “Athletics at the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Games: Men’s High Jump.”
  7. “Athletics at the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Games: Men’s High Jump.”
  8. “Athletics at the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Games: Men’s High Jump.”
  9. “Athletics at the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Games: Men’s High Jump.”
  10. Afable 1972.
  11. “Simeon Toribio.” http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/to/simeon-toribio-1.html. Retrieved 8-19-2012.
  12. Afable 1972.
  13. Afable 1972.

“Jump-Starting Philippine Athletics” by Joboy Quintos

Hardly anyone ever remembers Simeon Toribio and Miguel White. Toribio was the dominant force in Asian high jumping back in the 1930’s, lording it over the old Far Eastern Games, the pre-cursor of today’s Asian Games. The Boholano won the Philippines’ first medal in athletics at the 1932 Los Angeles Games, a bronze in the high jump. Four years later in Berlin, White emulated Toribio’s feat in the 400m low hurdles.

The Philippines is in the midst a running boom. Hardly a weekend goes by without a running event in the offing. A multitude of companies (from pharmaceuticals to bakeshops) utilize running events to better market their respective products. The past few years have seen the arrival of professional East African distance runners who regularly take part – and dominate – the cash-rich road races all over the country.

One can consider the running boom as just a fad. However, running has perhaps been embedded deeper than billiards, boxing and badminton. With the multitude of running events, surely, the running bug has afflicted quite a large number of citizens. Besides, running is a relatively cheap physical activity – if you don’t join those expensive races, that is. To get that addictive runner’s high, one only needs a good pair of shoes and comfy clothes. Running, apparently, is here to stay.

As an athletics junkie and a track athlete, I’ve often wondered how this exponential interest in running could trickle down to the other disciplines of the sport. After all, the far less popular track events are, in principle, similar to these road races. The object of a sprint race and a road race is simple: to reach the finish line in the shortest possible time. Despite vast differences in tactics, training, strategy and event rules, the ultimate objective remain fundamentally the same.

The sport has almost been completely neglected by the media, corporate sponsors and the general viewing public. An infusion of interest, trickling down from the running boom, could be the driving force for an athletics renaissance.

To illustrate the current state of Philippine athletics, the medal-winning performances of Toribio and White are still competitive against the current generation of track & field athletes. For instance, Toribio’s 1.97m leap, accomplished using the old-school straddle method, at the 1932 Olympic Games high jump final is still good enough for the top three at the 2011 Philippine National Games. Similarly, White’s 52.8s time in the low hurdles would wallop most of the country’s top-level intermediate hurdlers.

Aside from a resurgence in the Gintong Alay days and a brief revival in the early oughts, Philippine athletics has been on a sharp downtrend. Since those double bronze medals in the thirties, the best finish of a Filipino in the Olympic Games was Hector Begeo’s semi-finals appearance at the 3,000m steeplechase. Even the great Lydia de Vega and Isidro del Prado could only reach up to the second round.

Although our lean and mean athletics squad is fairly formidable in the Southeast Asian Games, they wither in higher-level competitions such as the Asian Games. Our last medal in the said quadrennial event came way back at the 1994 Hiroshima Games. The Olympic “A” and “B” standards for athletics are much too high for the majority of our track & field elite; hence, the country only sends a handful of wild card representatives.

With these forgettable performances, it is unsurprising that athletics, despite its status as the centerpiece of the Olympics, languishes in terms of popularity and funding.

It is unfortunate considering the huge amounts of talent our country has to offer. Despite our lack of an honest-to-goodness grassroots development program, hordes of young athletes crowd the Palarong Pambansa and the Batang Pinoy Games. The cream of the crop progresses to the country’s top universities. As these talents grow older, however, their ranks thin. Except for a talented few that joins the ranks of the national team or the Armed Forces, graduation almost always means retirement from the sport. Case in point is the Philippine National Games. Some senior events were held as a straight-off final, with the athletes barely going beyond eight in a heat. In the youth and junior competitions, qualifying heats could number up to four.

To make a living out of the sport is grossly inadequate, especially when the prospective elite athlete has to provide for one’s family. In light of the gap in terms of elite-level performance and our local talent, a sustainable career in the international professional athletics circuit is next to impossible.

Nevertheless, a schools-based sports system, albeit crude; exists for local track & field. A clubs-based system is imperative to lift the dismal standing of the sport. One can start from the existing Armed Forces teams. The multitude of companies that sponsor weekly road runs could perhaps invest in their respective corporate teams, similar to the commercial athletics squads in Japan, an Asian track & field powerhouse. Moreover, university teams could field their crack varsity teams bolstered by select alumni.

What the sport needs is a winning figure: a marketable, articulate athlete that can act as the lightning rod of attention for this neglected discipline. It doesn’t have to be at the same level as a Manny Pacquiao, Efren Reyes or Paeng Nepomuceno. Someone who excels at the Asian level (the Southeast Asian level is much too small) would be a viable candidate. Having a world-beater as a national icon would jump-start the lethargic sport.

A promising niche market, national interest and larger-than-life track & field star could perhaps provide the catalyst for an athletics boom in the Philippines. If countries like Jamaica (sprints), Cuba (jumps and hurdles), Kenya (distance running) and Ethiopia (distance running)– whose level of economic development is more or less comparable to our own – I see no reason for the Philippines to find its own niche in this medal-rich Olympic event.

The resurgence of athletics will not happen overnight. It will take generations to overhaul our highly politicized system to equip the Filipino athlete as a world-beater.

Each time I read about a promising provincial lad making waves in the Palarong Pambansa or see a bunch of kids exuberantly running laps around Ultra with their running-bug afflicted parents, the future of the sport looks bright. Perhaps some time in the not-too-distant future, a Filipino could once again stand on the coveted Olympic podium, this time with the “Lupang Hinirang” proudly playing in the background.

Article by Joboy Quintos

ABL 2013 Game 2: Outgunned

For the nth time, an undermanned AHS 4D 03  squad withered against top notch competition. From the tip-off, the opposing team came out with all guns blazing. The mainstays of AHS 4J 03 were taller, faster, and more athletic. Midway into the first quarter, the deficit ballooned to more than ten points. To make matters worse, the absence of Gino Magat left the already depleted frontline without another vital bruiser.

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Photo from Jeric Angeles

By second half, the lead mushroomed to 30 points as the J-boys found their mark from beyond the arc. In a good show of sportsmanship, our opponents pulled out their big guns as their runaway victory (and our demise) became more apparently certain. Nevertheless, the fresh legs of AHS 4J 03’s second stringers were too much to handle.

There was to be no miracle comeback, as the team missed a substantial number of free throw attempts (40%, 4/10). For the second straight game, our three-point shooting accuracy was horrendous (16.7%, 3/18). Our taller adversaries grabbed a massive 39 rebounds against our miniscule 12. We were bested in almost every statistical category except in blocked shots (4).

The final score: 43-61. AHS 4D 03, the Roberto Littaua champions of 2009, had just sustained its worst shellacking since the 50-point blowout in 2011.

Losing is never fun. But there’s only so much a depleted squad could do. The lone bright spot in this debacle of an ABL season is the fact that the losing experience is character-building.

Game Statistics (from ABL.ph)

AHS-2003-M-2

ABL 2013 Game 1: The Losing Streak Continues

ABL 2012 was a debacle. We won only three games – two of these by default. A recurring knee injury to our ace player Merrill Lazo compounded the troubles brought about by the loss of two our key big men. The team struggled to fill gaps in the rotation. We were perenially undermanned – a far cry from the vaunted championship squad of 2009.

Last Saturday’s game was no different. We were outgunned, outclassed, and outfought. The opposing team, AHS 4A 2003, was taller and heftier and boasted several players with basketball varsity experience. Although we led by a couple of points during the first few minutes of the game, the lack of offensive cohesion and frontline heft took its toll. Our adversaries scored with reckless abandon from both the inside and the outside. The lack of adequate substitute players in our rotation made it harder for our guards to defend against 4A’s crack snipers.

By halftime, the team was neck-deep under a staggering 17-point lead.

Huffing and puffing from two quarters’ worth of exertion, I struggled to come to terms with the shellacking. The portly Velden Lim did his utmost best to infuse some order into our offense. As I sat on one of those new folding chairs to catch my breath, I noticed grim smiles painted on the faces of Adi Dimaliwat and Paolo Rosales, our most vital scoring cogs.

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Paolo Rosales at the free throw line. (Photo from Lui Sugui)

Once the second half began, a vicious fightback ensued. As the opposing team rested their starters, we fought tooth and nail for every point. Hustle was the name of the game, despite our struggles in forming a cohesive offensive effort. Although we reduced the deficit to a mere 6 points in the fourth quarter, the exhausted AHS 4D 03 squad was left scoreless in the last four minutes of the game. The final buzzer sounded with the score of 37-46.

The game statistics speak volumes about our terrible game. We shot a miserable 22.2%. Only 7 out of our 22 three-point attempts found the bottom of the net, despite Paolo Rosales’ accurate 44.4% clip from behind the arc. Similarly, we had trouble making our free throws (6 out 18, 33.3%). The opposing team outrebounded us 25-38.

An inspired Andrei Blancia put in an herculean effort in the paint, grabbing a team-high 8 rebounds. Rosales scored a team-high 17 points, as JR “MVP” Calimbas churned in a game-high 4-assist performance.

Game Statistics (from ABL.ph)

AHS-2003-M-1

Silver (February 2006)

Here’s something I wrote shortly after winning my first UAAP Senior medal back in February 2006.

Finally. Got a silver this afternoon in the hurdles. I topped the overall list of qualifiers (15.85) but sadly, finished 2nd in the final heat. Damn. I was 0.03s away from the gold (Orlando Soriano – 15.72. I clocked 15.75s).

To add insult to injury, I celebrated too early by raising my arms half a meter before the finish line (Note: I actually rose from my dive too early. I did not celebrate early!).

ua06-056

Too early!

That cost me the race since I wasn’t able to outlean the gold medallist, whom I edged out in the same qualifying heat.

Nevertheless, this feels great. How badly I had missed finishing at the top echelons of the field. The cheers of my teammates were incomparable treasures. Seeing them happy because of what I had achieved made this victory a hundred times more sweet.

The Men’s team had a splendid first day, with 3 silver medals (Bryan – 100m dash, John Gregorio – Javelin Throw). In addition, Nina finished second in the 100m hurdles. Three more days to go. The team has to maintain this momentum in order to achieve a podium finish.

Some Photos:

7a

110m Hurdles Heats.

Clipboard01

110m Hurdles Heats Results.

29

Before the start of the 110m Hurdles Final.

Congratulations to the Ateneo Blue Eagles!

“Blue Eagle, The King”

I can still remember my first ever Big Blue Eagle Cheer Rally back in 1999. I was a high school freshman, a product of a small, tight-knit learning institution in Don Antonio Heights. Unlike most of my classmates who came from the Ateneo Grade School, I stood out like a sore thumb. I had a hard time taking in all the foreign notions of Ateneo Spirit. The cheers, in particular, were unintelligible jibberish I found difficult to appreciate.

Click this link to read the full article…

Back to the Podium (9 February 2006)

While scouring my old Livejournal for a school paper I wrote years ago, I came across the following post. I wrote it hours after winning my first UAAP medals in the seniors division! More than six year had passed since that moment. I can still feel the sheer adrenaline rush of that day. It’s a pity that we didn’t have fancy DSLR cameras or high-res videos back then. 

At least I was able to express the emotions that I felt through prose.

Finally. Got a silver this afternoon in the hurdles. I topped the overall list of qualifiers (15.88) but sadly, finished 2nd in the final heat. Damn. I was 0.03s away from the gold. To add insult to injury, I celebrated too early by raising my arms half a meter before the finish line. That cost me the race since I wasn’t able to outlean the gold medallist, whom I edged out in the same qualifying heat.

Nevertheless, this feels great. How badly I had missed finishing at the top echelons of the field. The cheers of my teammates were incomparable treasures. Seeing them happy because of what I had achieved made this victory a hundred times more sweet.

Wednesdays

My first athletics coach, Ed Sediego, will make the big move to a foreign land by mid-2012. When I went back to serious hurdles training this year, I was surprised to bump into my former coach one Wednesday night. Since then, I’ve tailored my training program to coincide with his practice sessions with the Ayala Corporation team.

I’ve always been close to the guy, even during my University days when he was no longer my trainer. His laissez-faire, happy approach to training played an integral part in providing an enjoyable atmosphere in our high school team practices.  While some coaches function like slave masters, Coach Ed acted the exact opposite. He never shouts or insults his athletes. He is every inch the father figure. Coach Ed’s relatively light training loads jived perfectly with the difficult balancing act of being a student-athlete.

Even if he doesn’t closely monitor my hurdling nowadays, Coach Ed takes the time to glance at my progress, never stingy in giving out A’s when asked for my hurdling grade! Come to think of it, this is the nearest I’ve actually been to training with my coach again. As much as I’m fond of being self-coached, I’m willing to shed the free-wheeling independence of my current routine, should Coach Ed offer to train me again (a far-flung possibility considering his busy schedule).

At twenty-six years of age, I’ve been a hurdler for the past eleven years. My experiences on the track played a big part in molding who I am today. In a sense, I owe it all to my first coach, who patiently taught me the rudiments of the hurdles.

Sometimes, its surreal to think that I’m actually competing again. Three years ago, I would not have thought that such a comeback would materialize. Seeing Coach Ed on the track, exchanging training views and inputs and talking about the good old days, reminds me of my early days with the sport – strengthening my resolve to be the best sprint hurdler I can possibly be.

ABL Games 7 and 8: The End of the Road

At the start of the season, we compared our team (in jest) to the resurgent Powerade Tigers. Ryan Agas, our main man, was Gary David. Former UAAP juniors star, Merrill Lazo, was Marcio Lassiter. The sweet-shooting Adi Dimaliwat was our JV Casio. Rounding up the supporting cast were Paolo Rosales (Rudy Lingganay), Yayo Puno (Sean Anthony) and yours truly (Doug Kramer/Josh Vanlandingham. A far-fetched comparison!).

We won our first game, despite an undermanned line-up. It was the last time Merrill and Agas played together in the 2012 season. Ryan had pressing academic commitments that saw him miss six out of our eight games. Merrill carried the cudgels until a recurring injury ruled him out of our last three games. We had several close shaves at grabbing the “W,” despite the absence of our stars, but then again, we could not seem to pull off a winning performance. Luck seemed to be on our side, as two of the opposing teams defaulted on its games.

The penultimate game of the regular season, against Team JR Sarmiento, was a lucky turn. Out of contention, the opposing team failed to assemble the minimum number of players; thus, losing the game by default. Barely 24 hours later, we went against AHS 4J 2003 – second in the overall rankings. Even if their main man RJ Jacinto did not play, we had a hard time playing against the taller and faster team. All game long, we kept the lead to a manageable single digit. We even went as close as two points in the third quarter, before a series of errant plays cut our momentum.

When the final buzzer sounded, we were down by nine points (51-60). At the end of the ABL season, we had a 3-5 card, second-to-the-last in our five-team division.

Nevertheless, there were some bright points. Playing without Merrill and Agas brought the rest of the team together. All of a sudden, slacking off was not an option. We could not rely on the talent of our Dynamic Duo any longer. We were left to fend for ourselves. The circumstances brought out the best in us, a valuable learning experience in the future ABL seasons.

AHS-2003-M-Semis-1

Illogical

It all started a few days before the ELSA Amazing Race. When I woke up one morning, my throat felt itchy. Perhaps it was due to the rainy weather, or the times I failed to quickly change into a dry shirt. I was also feeling somewhat stressed around that time, from my crazy schedule of sleep deprivation, full-time work and athletics training. The logical thing I should have done was to rest it out. But I did not follow the logical path.

Instead, I played a lengthy game of basketball that weekend. For four quarters, our undermanned ABL team held its own against better and taller opponents. We lost the game by a measly two points. At the end of the 45 minutes of play, I was breathing heavily. I started to cough as my nose became even more clogged. That night, I developed a mild fever. I wanted to pull out of the Amazing Race, but for some insane reason, I did not.

I sneaked in one oval session a few days later, thinking I’ve recovered from my illness. It turned out that I haven’t. The next weekend, I played in yet another ill-fated basketball match, exacerbating my poor condition.

Despite my poor basketball skills, I just had to do my part for our ABL team – especially with the absence of our star players. There were no fairy tale endings at the end of it. We lost two of our last three games; thus, effectively ending our 2012 ABL season.

Even if I lost quite a few training days, I was glad as hell I did not back down from the challenge of playing through an illness. The thought of missing out on a good fight would have been more hurtful than spending a few days more under the weather.

Sometimes, we throw logic off the window, as the mind takes a back seat to our passions.

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