Track Beauty of the Week: Denise Groot

Denise Groot is this week’s Track Beauty!

Groot is a pole vaulter from the Netherlands. Coached by George Friant and 2005 World Champion Rens Blom, Denise has been a consistent 4.00m vaulter since 2007. Groot had a sterling career in age-group competition. While still only a youth athlete, Denise won a silver medal in the Dutch National Championships in 2007, clearing a height of 3.61m. She followed this up with another silver medal, soaring over 3.90m in the European Youth Olympic Festival the same year.

Article by Joboy Quintos

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Track Beauty of the Week: Molly Beckwith

Molly Beckwith is this week’s Track Beauty!

The United States is not just the world’s last remaining superpower, it is also the world’s foremost athletics nation. A strong testament to this lofty standing is the American resurgence in middle- and long-distance running – events that have been dominated for so long by East and Northern Africans and the occasional Russian talent.

Article by Joboy Quintos

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Track Beauty of the Week: Brianne Theisen

Brianne Theisen is this week’s Track Beauty!

Theisen is a world-class heptathlete, having had stints at the World Championships and the Olympic Games. As a 16-year old, she made competed at the 2005 World Youth Championships, finishing in 17th place in an event won by future World Champion Tatiana Chernova Татьяна Сергеевна Чернова. Brianne also wound up in the same ranking spot a year later at the World Junior Championships in Beijing.

Article by Joboy Quintos

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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)

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Track Beauty of the Week: Élodie Ouédraogo

Élodie Ouédraogo is this week’s Track Beauty!

Ouédraogo is a Belgian athlete who competes in both the sprints and the intermediate hurdles. The high point in her career came at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she won the 4x100m silver together with Belgian sprinting great Kim Gevaert, Olivia Borleé, and Hanna Marien. The quartet stopped the clock at a new Belgian record of 42.54s. Élodie was also part of the Belgian squad tha won bronze at the Osaka World Championships.

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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)

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Track Beauty of the Week: Zuzana Hejnová

Zuzana Hejnová is this week’s Track Beauty!

The Czech 400m hurdles specialist has made significant impact in her event the past two years. Coming into the 2011 season, Zuzana had a personal best of 54.13s and a fourth-place finish at the 2010 Barcelona European Championships to her credit. Towards the end of the year, the Czech had lowered her personal record by almost 1 second to 53.29s. More importantly, she gained valuable experience as she crossed the line in a competitive 7th place at the Daegu World Championships.

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Track Beauty of the Week: Melissa Breen

Melissa Breen is this week’s Track Beauty!

The 22-year old is a top-ranked Australian elite sprinter. Breen had won national titles in both the 100m and the 200m since 2009. To date, her major championship curriculum vitae include stints at the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships, and most recently, the 2012 London Olympic Games.

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Track Beauty of the Week: Vira Rebryk Віра Вікторівна Ребрик

Vira Rebryk is this week’s Track Beauty!

The 23-year old Ukrainian is the reigning World Junior record holder for the javelin throw. She set the U20 standard of 63.01m at the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz back in 2008.[1] Naturally, her track record as an age-group athlete was immaculate, having won World Youth and World Junior silvers and the European Junior title on top of her World Junior gold medal.

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On Blog Statistics and Athletics

The year 2012 is a year of extremes for both my blog and my recently concluded (ignominiously, at that) athletics career. Monthly readership had increased exponentially from January up to the London Olympic Games in August. From 7,904 unique monthly views in January, this vital statistic peaked at a staggering 71,598 in August. Similarly, I had experienced some sort of athletics renaissance in the early months of the year. I felt strong, despite the psychological hindrances of training solo and juggling a challenging schedule.

blog stats

Readership dropped considerably after London. So did my interest in athletics and writing about track & field. I still managed to eke out the weekly Track Beauty, which by then has been something short of mechanical. I struggled to find inspiration to churn out in-depth, honest-to-goodness pieces that has become the trademark of this blog. In the end, it was a futile attempt at sustaining something that is not there.

Read: “Arrivederci, Hurdles!”

The moment the Olympic magic died down, the reality that I am a retired hurdler took immediate effect. Although the steady stream of athletics articles have slowed down to a trickle, I have no intention of killing this site outright. I am still pretty much engaged in sports, in light of regular competitive basketball games, weight training, plyometrics and sprinting workouts. Even if my interest in track & field is near its historic lows, I’m quite certain that once the indoor season comes into full swing, I’ll be tuning in to Eurosport and scouring the athletics news wires yet again.

As I grow older in life, these puerile concerns become less and less pressing. Perhaps one day this site will die a natural death, but the time is not now.

“Forever Alone Guy Meets His Dream Athlete”

Check out this  cool clip from LMAOfy! Featuring our favorite hurdler, Michelle Jenneke, and the Forever Alone guy.

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Photo from Erik van Leeuwen

Track Beauty of the Week: Elizaveta Savlinis Елизавета Савлинис

Elizaveta Savlinis Елизавета Савлинис is this week’s Track Beauty!

Savlinis specializes in the 200m dash. Her breakout year in the half-lap came in 2012, when she went under the 23-second barrier for the first time in her career. Elizaveta has a personal best of 22.62s, which she set in 2011 and 2012.

Click this link to read the full article…

Track Beauty of the Week: Marika Popowicz

Marika Popowicz is this week’s Track Beauty!

Popowicz is a Polish sprinter who specializes in the 100m and 200m. Marika has a personal best of 11.38s and 23.15s in the aforesaid events, set during her breakout season in 2009.The young Polish speedster racked brought home multiple individual medals as well as a relay medal from the World Military Games and the World University Games.

Click this link to read the full article…

“Alab ng Puso”

I must admit that I found Manny Pacquiao’s last three fights mediocre. I am not a boxing expert, but it seemed as if Manny had lost the edge. I cringed each time he and Shane Mosley touched gloves before each round. I mean, what happened to this guy’s promises of giving the fans a good fight? Was this the same rags-to-riches Filipino icon who pummeled the likes of Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Oscar Dela Hoya to submission?

Like most of my countrymen, I am a rabid fan of Pacquiao. I’ve seen all of his fights dating from 2003, prior to his great knockout win over Barrera. When I was a stingy college student with no extra cash to spare, I waited patiently through the the torrents of advertisements on free TV, just to be able to see my idol fight. Throughout the last decade, I felt overjoyed after each of Manny’s hard-fought wins – and crestfallen in the rare times he fell short. I found inspiration in Pacquiao’s meteoric rise, in his work ethic and dedication, as I went about my collegiate athletics career.

Politics and religious views aside, Manny Pacquiao was my hero.

Even if I had my doubts prior to the fourth Pacquiao-Marquez fight, I tuned in to GMA7 delayed telecast yesterday afternoon. Like tens of millions of Filipino viewers, I was left aghast when the wily Marquez felled Pacquiao in the early rounds. When Manny floored the bloodied Mexican in the sixth, I heaved a sigh of relief that proved to be short-lived. Marquez’ right-hand counter hit Manny square in the jaw. As I watched our champion lie motionless on the canvas, I feared for the worst and prayed to the high-heavens for his safety.

I don’t know what’s next for Manny Pacquiao. Whatever his decision, he has every reason to keep his chin up – and pride intact. He fought his heart out, without any pretensions of this being just all for the money. The Pacman was as audacious and daring as he was in those great duels with Morales. In the end, things just did not fall into place for the champion. Manny lost to the better fighter.

I am just a sports fan. I could not possibly give an informed assessment on why Pacquiao lost the bout. But one thing is for certain, even in defeat, Pacquiao is every inch the Filipino hero.

“Ikay matutumba. Ika’y masasawi. Mabibilangan ka ngunit babangon kang muli.” – Rivermaya’s Alab ng Puso

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!).

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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:

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110m Hurdles Heats.

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110m Hurdles Heats Results.

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Before the start of the 110m Hurdles Final.

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