Tag Archives: Ateneo Track & Field

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.

Ateneo High School Track & Field UAAP 64 and 65 Championship Plaques

My friend Ralph Aligada posted a photo of the Ateneo High School Track & Field Team’s UAAP 64 and 65 Championship Plaques! It’s the first time I’ve ever seen this and I was truly surprised. Before Ralph’s unexpected Facebook post, I was unaware of its existence!

Read “The Kings of the Track: UAAP 65 Juniors Champions”

 

Photos from Ralph Aligada

It’s surreal to think that almost a decade has passed since we won those junior titles. Since those days were devoid of social media, our videos and photos were at a bare minimum.

Nevertheless, it’s good to know that somewhere in the hallowed halls of the Alma Mater, our humble feats are remembered.

Wise Words From A Former Trackster

Jet Paz, a former Blue Tracksters captain, posted a poignant comment on one of my posts a few weeks back. Way back in 2001, I was a high school junior during Jet’s fifth and final year with the men’s UAAP squad. I remember sitting at one of the high school stone benches with Jet and some of my former teammates. Jet was recounting his experiences as a junior to us young guns. It was the final day of the UAAP and we were slated to run the grueling 4x400m relay. Since most of us were rookies, we were naturally nervous.

I can hardly remember the nuances of my rookie year. After all, eleven long years have passed since December 2001. And yet, Jet’s words have remained vividly ingrained in my mind all thoroughout.

Ibigay niyo na lahat [give it your all],” said Jet, himself an experienced quarter miler and middle distance runner. “Ubusin niyo na lakas niyo hangga’t hindi na kayo makalakad. Sasaluhin naman kayo ng mga teammates niyo sa finish line. May tagabuhat naman! [Dig deep until the limits of your strength. Your teammates will be there for you at the finish line. They’ll carry you, if you’re unable to walk!]”

Jet’s mantra has stuck with me ever since, especially in the face of the most taxing track events such as the 4x400m relay. During our lung-busting speed endurance workouts, my notoriously crazy “death wish” pace was culled from Jet’s approach. In each and every relay event that I joined, sublte recollections of that quiet December day strengthened my resolve. Fortunately for us relay runners, my teammates were just as supportive as Jet’s, patiently waiting at the finish line with a helping hand (sometimes, literally) and a much-needed bottle of Gatorade.

This mantra transcended the bounds of the 400m track to the basketball court too, in light of my recent forays to the hoops game.

The following line from his comment struck me the most: “At the end of the day, there’s a smile on my face when I think of all the people I have gotten to know and befriended from track. I must say that the memories that track has given me would never grow old.”

True enough, one never stays young forever. An athlete’s sporting days are finite. Giving it your all – for yourself, your teammates, your school, your family, your country and for the One above – makes the struggle worthwhile. Leaving everything on the track is the only way to be certain that the ghosts of regret won’t haunt oneself in the future.

UAAP 74 Athletics Schedule

Here’s the lineup of events for this year’s UAAP Athletics Championships. The four-day event will be held in Ultra on 9-12 February 2012.

 

 

Click here to download the PDF version

Thank you to Coach Igor Quodala and EJ Valera for providing the schedule!

Finding Inspiration

I hardly know anyone from my old college track & field team. Except for my former coach and a couple of vets, most of the guys and gals are strangers. At first, I felt awkward wearing my circa 2005 and 2006 Ateneo kits. These articles of clothing, juxtaposed with the newer versions seem archaic. The age gap, come to think of it, is quite glaring. I graduated from college back in 2007, when the rookies of this year’s team were mere high school freshmen.

I used to know quite a lot of the young guns. But due to internal team issues, these guys opted to cut their ties with the Blue Tracksters. I was surprised at the sudden exodus, especially when I heard stories from both conflicting sides. In a varsity team, a college coach’s words are law. It’s either you fit in or you ship out. Hence, most of the team are newbies. Only a handful of the previous years’ crack veterans decided to stay.

I wasn’t always the most obedient of athletes, but I did appreciate the patience my coach displayed in the face of my subtle arrogance. I just couldn’t imagine quitting the team.

During the times when I shared the track with the new squad, I saw something familiar that caught my eye. Amidst the youth and inexperience, I saw traces of of the 2003-2006 teams, of which I was part. We weren’t the best of athletes. In fact, none of my batchmates were given college scholarship offers. In 2003, the team finished dead last. Through sheer guts and hard work (and a bunch of talented rookies), we clawed our way up. Three years later, we hoisted a medium-sized, Lapu-Lapu-inspired second runner-up trophy. It was the first podium finish by an Ateneo Men’s Team in the UAAP. Even if it wasn’t a prestigious championship crown, it sure as hell felt like we were on top of the world.

It has been more than three years since I last competed for the Blue and White. As I move forward in life, I know for a fact that my shelf-life as a part-time working athlete is limited. Amongst the frequent solitude, I find inspiration in these exuberant youths. Whatever happens come UAAP time, whether they finish dead last or on top of the perch, I’ll gladly find time to watch them compete. They remind me of a simpler time, when all that seemed to matter were getting good grades, winning a medal and spotting the next head-turner on campus. Moreover, seeing them reiterates the fact that there’s more to life than clearing hurdles. Somewhere down the road, I’d have to hang up my spikes for the last time.

Until then, I’ll be doing my utmost best to be the fastest sprint hurdler this country has ever seen, whilst building the foundations of my off-track life.

UAAP Track & Field Championships 2011

Throughout my days at the Hill, I had a total of seven UAAP track & field competitions – two as a junior and five as a senior. From 2001 to 2008, the highlight of each year was the 4-day athletics championships held in Rizal Memorial Sports Center. Looking back after all these years, I can honestly say that the experiences borne out of the field of competition – the ups and downs, the peaks and troughs – had been character-building.

UAAP hostilities will commence tomorrow afternoon. Since Rizal is undergoing a drastic face lift, the organizers had chosen Ultra as the venue. The old Olympic-style schedule consisting of four straight days of events was shelved by adding several days of rest in between the final two days (Jan 26, 27, 29 and 31 are the competition days).

This will be my third time to watch the UAAP as a track & field alumnus. Gone are the familiar faces of my former teammates. Aside from a handful of athletes (now seniors), most of the members of this year’s team are acquaintances, in light of the age gap!

As always, I make it a point to watch the first day – and the 110m high hurdles. With three-time UAAP champion Mike Mendoza’s graduation, the emerging Dean Roxas is the Ateneo’s best bet in the sprint hurdles. The fleet-footed Soy Soriano, arguably the best sprinter to have come out of Loyola in recent years, will anchor the team’s sprinting hopes. Freshman Al Bugarin, the Unigames 2011 shot put gold medalist, is a taller version of Ryan Dalman, whose UAAP shot put record still stands after 6 years.

On the distaff side, the pole vaulting duo of Bettina Maclang and Jam Valenton are forces to be reckoned with. Veteran thrower Mica Sibayan also returns to play out her final year of eligibility.

Ateneo Tracksters top Unigames 2010

The Ateneo de Manila Men’s Track & Field won its second championship this season. The Blue Tracksters topped a quality field in the 2010 National University Games (UniGames) in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. De La Salle University and Rizal Technological University placed 2nd and 3rd over-all, respectively, in the men’s standing. On the distaff side, the ladies finished second over-all behind powerhouse UST.

First things first, the officials should have rounded up the hand-timed results to the nearest tenth – to conform with IAAF regulations. I guess they follow their own set of competition rules down south!

Reading the results sent over by Glenn Arcanghel of UST, the most impressive performance would have to be Soy Soriano’s 200m dash domination (21.56s). The Ateneo speedster built up a 0.5s lead over Palarong Pambansa champion Daniel Noval of De LaSalle University – College of St. Benilde (22.04s). Soriano emerged as a three-time gold medallist (100m, 200m, Classical Relay)  in the two-day meet.

Soriano set a new meet record in the 200m dash.

Sister schools DLS-CSB (42.50s), DLS-Dasmarinas (43.08s) and DLSU-Manila (43.24s) reigned supreme in the 4x100m relay. Ateneo fell to fourth place (43.44s) behind the dominating performances of the aforesaid three schools.

Men’s 4x100m relay (video from Ralph Soguilon)

The Unso siblings notched a unique hurdling double, with the older Jose (14.93) edging out UST’s Emman delos Angeles (14.95) for gold in the 110m high hurdles. Patch, the youngest son of 400m national record holder Renato Unso, registered an easy win in the lows (55.31s) over an outgunned field.

Ateneo’s rookie Al Bugarin heaved the shot 12.81m to snare the gold. Veteran Geelo Arayata topped the Discus Throw (38.96m).

On the distaff side, Mica Sibayan threw 32.57m and 10.19m in the Discus and Shot Put, respectively. Anj Aquino stopped the clock at 13.06s to finish third behind UST’s Luville Dato-on (12.47s) and Meriam Colangoy  (12.52s) in the 100m dash. UST dominated all the female relay events.

Download the Unigames 2010 Athletics Results (from Glenn Arcanghel and Pinoymiler)

Read the GoAteneo write-up

Read Pinoymiler’s Unigames 2010 Wrap-up

View Unigames 2010 photos here

I wasn’t able to watch the competitions because of work – and the sheer distance of the venue to Manila! Nevertheless, I was ecstatic when I heard the news from an old teammate. I was fortunate to be part of the first Ateneo track & field contingent to the Unigames (2003, La Salle Dasmarinas). The men’s team came home empty-handed. Nina Buenaflor salvaged the honor of the school with her double bronze medals in the long and triple jumps. A year later in Bacolod, we notched a couple of close 4th place finishes, but still went home without the bling-bling. In my senior year, we finally won our first medals and finished 3rd over-all in the general standings (Unigames 2006, Bacolod).

Read: Payback

Photos from Bettina Maclang

To see the current crop of tracksters hoist a gigantic trophy is priceless!

Video credit:

Ralph Soguilon

Big Blue Katipunan Run II (21 Nov 2010)

My former team is organizing the Big Blue Katipunan Run (21 Nov 2010).

For more details, click this link for the Facebook event.

From the organizers:

Did you missed the first Big Blue Run? Well, here’s your chance to join another Big Blue Event happening on November 21, 2010 at the Ateneo Campus

Big Blue Katipunan Run
November 21, 2010 @ 5AM
Ateneo campus (Route goes out into Katipunan)
3K / 5K / 10K

Registration Fee is PHP 400 which includes a Singlet, race kit and loot bags
Medals and cash for top finishers

Age and Gender Categories:
3K: Men, Women (19 and up), Junior Boys, Junior Girls (15-18), Kids Boys, Kids Girls (14 and below)
5K: Men, Women (19 and up), Junior Boys, Junior Girls (18 and below)
10K: Men, Women (34 and below), Masters Men, Masters Women (35 and up)

Proceeds will go to the missions and charities of the Society of Jesus
More details about this event to follow…

Afterword

My most eloquent moments seem to come at the heels of heartbreak. I wrote the following piece days after my final UAAP. My confidence was shattered; I was aimless. A months-long period of emotional erosion – then healing – took place.

Now that I’m older (and wiser, hopefully), looking back at these turbulent yet formative chapters evokes fond feelings of nostalgia.

11 February 2008

Ah the race.

That race.

I tried to stay with the leaders during the first part of my relay leg, but decided against it after the 180m mark. I disengaged and coasted for about 50m, stayed in position for another 70m, but as I prepared for the final burst my legs simply could not go faster. We were in 5th place when I passed the baton to Mike Mendoza. Even though Mike and JP Azcueta overtook DLSU to get 4th place, we simply could not meet the targets that were set. I put the blame entirely on myself. If I only stayed with the race leaders all throughout. If only I had more speed endurance – more heart.

It was like February 2006 again, when the team failed to win 3rd place by a measly 4.5 points behind UE. Only this time, we lost a bigger prize, the 1st-runner up trophy by the infinitesimal amount of 3.5 points.

Again, there are a variety of “what-if” scenarios, with the aforementioned 4x400m race included. It’s a Pandora’s Box of situations that hardly does any good. But hey, we scored the highest ever aggregate score among all the Ateneo Men’s Track & Field teams that have competed through the years. So many people rose to the occasion and excelled.

I remember writing something several years back, about giving it your all and owing it to yourself in the end. The sun has set and I’m preparing to go down from the hill. In this momentary calm, I recollect my thoughts; put them in order amidst the chaos of these nightmares.

I feel really bad, but it could have been a lot worse. I didn’t meet my goals, but it sure as hell was a great season. I seem to forget that only a year ago, I was struggling to recover from a broken arm. I did break 15 seconds, even if it was only hand-timed, and had an almost forgettable string of low-15 second races. In the UAAP, I clocked a measly 15.52s in the heats and 15.75s in the final. I could have done much better, but the start, the sprint-in-between and the clearing simply didn’t have its usual spring. It could have been psychological; my collapse – my being outclassed – baffles me.

February 7 (and the 10th as well) simply wasn’t my day.

After the relay, which was the last event of the four-day meet, I took my time going back to the bleachers. Ashamed of my performance, I didn’t want to face my teammates. While I was sulking at one of the benches – “wallowing in self-pity” is a more creative and apt term – Orlando Soriano came to me to give his jersey. For a moment, I forgot the negative things and realized that sport did go beyond winning medals and scoring points. For all of track & field’s simplicity – those who throw and leap the farthest, those who run the fastest, wins – it really goes beyond beating the “7 nameless and faceless guys standing in my way.”**

One of the most relevant sports-related quotes out there are the ones by Martina Navratilova, the many-time Wimbledon champion; and Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics. Navratilova’s words are truthfully blunt: “Whoever said ‘It’s not whether you win or lose that counts’ probably lost.” For Baron de Coubertin, “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”* At first glance, the two seem to lie on opposite poles, with the former viewing winning and losing from a black & white lens, and the latter, being more universal and philosophical.

If you made me chose between the two quotes a year ago, I would have chosen Navratilova’s. Now that I’ve been bitten by defeat’s rabid fangs, her words seem like virulent, bestial jaws devouring my skin – reminding me of the simple truth, that oh so painful of facts, that I’ve lost.

Through the excruciating pangs of failure, I had an epiphany – that these two quotes are not paradoxical. Each one complements the other; the latter builds upon the former: Indeed, sport is about winning; there can only be one winner, one gold medalist – one champion. But sport goes beyond winning and losing. Sport is beyond making a string of excuses that debunks sport’s very essence. Sport is about making goals and meeting them. Sport is facing adversity head on. Sport is about commitment, a wholehearted devotion to something that you love doing.

Sport is about winning yet it goes beyond winning.

In the end, I threw away all those notions of shame and negativity. I mustered enough courage to speak in front of the team – that fine collection of young men who had stood together, fought together, suffered and laughed together – to thank them for a lifetime’s worth of memories.

* – The Olympic creed actually came from a sermon by an American Bishop, Ethelbert Talbot, according to this BBC feature.

** – Quoted from Michael Johnson

*** – For a year after UAAP 70, I was unable to look at these video clips. It was pure agony at that time.

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