Category Archives: Paco Razon

The Golden Bronze

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.

Video credit:

Fons Lavina

UAAP 73 Athletics Day 1 (26 January 2011)

Whilst stuck in EDSA traffic on my way to Ultra yesterday, I felt cold beads of sweat drench the old school Ateneo Track & Field warmer I was wearing. After an hour’s worth of snail-pace trudging, the familiar sight of the Blue and White greeted me.

The feel of UAAP 73 is entirely different from the years past. Aside from a handful of seniors, the rest of the current members of the college squads are mere acquaintances. A small number of my contemporaries from the other schools have turned to coaching. Even the venue itself brings forth an alien feel, in light of the fact that the UAAP has been held in Rizal for the better part of the league’s 73-year existence.

View the UAAP 73 schedule here

The Rundown

Freshman JB Capinpin missed the Long Jump top 8, after being disqualified for false starting at the 100m dash heats. Ateneo’s 1-2 sprinting punch, Soy Soriano and Franco Imperial barged into the century dash final in bombastic fashion, with the latter emerging the clear leader out of all qualifiers. In the final, Soriano overcame the fast finishing Jose Unso’s last ditch final burst, crowning himself as the fastest man of the meet at 10.8s.

Soriano (C) dominates his heat. (Photo from Joseph Angan)

Surprisingly, the Men’s 110m high hurdles was held as a straight final. Back in the day, we used to have as much as 3 heats for high’s, with each school sending at least entries. De La Salle University’s Unso ran his heart out, stopping the clock at a hand-timed 14.7s. Unso, eldest son of national 400m hurdles record holder Renato, won convincingly over UST’s Emman delos Angeles (14.8) and decathlete Jeson Cid of FEU (15.0). Ateneo’s Dean Roxas (15.4s) and team captain Zek Valera (17.6s) finished 5th and 8th, respectively.

DLSU’s Patrick Unso, the younger of the Unso brothers, was conspicuously absent due to conflicts with the release of his high school clearance.

On the distaff side, UST’s Bane-bane was just too classy for the rest of the field, running away with a dominant 15.1s win. Ateneo’s Anj Aquino, after a gutsy effort in qualifying, ran a hard-fought 16.7 in the final. Veteran thrower Mica Sibayan won silver at the shot put, notching a new personal best. State University’s Precious de Leon heaved the shot to a distance of 10.14m, enough to overhaul Sibayan’s 10.09m. A determined Ally Lim clung to a 5th place at the 5,000m walk, collapsing through sheer exhaustion. Lim’s lung-busting effort signified the no-nonsense fighting spirit of the current crop of tracksters.  Indeed, the women’s team had gone a long way.

With the departure of sprint queen Maita Mendoza, women’s track & field powerhouses FEU and UST reigned supreme at their traditional bailiwick, the 100m dash. FEU’s Hanelyn Loquinto ran 12.1s over UST’s Luville Dato-on.

The jumping marks were relatively lackluster, due to the substandard runway. FEU’s talented Cid could only manage a modest 6.46m leap – enough for the long jump gold. UE’s Gatmaitan, mentored by none other than the legendary Elma Muros, missed the women’s triple jump by a mere centimeter (11.79m). DLSU’s Felyn Dollosa won gold (11.80m).

View the official UAAP results from PATAFA

View partial UAAP results from Pinoymiler

Ateneo High School’s Chuckie Dumrique stormed through the 100m dash boys’ final. The talented Toledo almost threw 50m en route to a commanding victory in the junior javelin competition. The versatile Joaquin Ferrer, however, came short at the 110m high hurdles boys’ final. UPIS’ Nasis ran the (hurdle) race of his life to edge out the more fancied Ferrer.

Amidst all the action, the most memorable moment is Paco Razon’s desperate, last ditch heave for the bronze (article to follow). Ateneo’s Miguel Sibayan fell to fourth place. In a show of dominance, UST won both the gold and silver.

UP’s Javier Gomez was unable to defend his javelin (and decathlon) titles due to a recurring knee injury.

Razon's magical last-round throw. (Photo from Joseph Angan)

Post Script

Whilst watching the events with Jerome Margallo, the UAAP pole vault record holder said something that warmed my heart. Margallo admired the support given by former Ateneo athletes to the current team. Coming from a hardened veteran and an accomplished collegiate athlete, the compliment brought forth feelings of pride – and a sense of accomplishment. This strong sense of team was the main driving force behind the modest successes of our college years.

Even if three long years had passed since my last UAAP race, I still feel at home amidst the sea of familiar and not-so-familiar faces. As I cheer my heart out for this year’s young turks, I swell with pride at the thought that I too had once trodden upon those fertile field of dreams.

* Special thanks to Andrew Pirie for compiling results.

Photo credits

Joseph Angan (The Guidon)

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