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Tag Archives: Bruce Ventura
October 19, 2010Posted by on
The ageless Emerson Obiena uploaded an old photo to his Facebook account a while back. Judging from the designs of the Philippine team uniform, I figured that the picture was taken sometime during the early to mid-1990’s.
Coach Emer’s subtitles confirmed my hypothesis. The bespectacled Filipino-Chinese athlete on the left is non-other than Coach Emer himself, the founder of the Philippine Pole Vault Club and a many-time international campaigner for the Philippines. On the rightmost side of the photo is Bruce Ventura, the Philippine national record holder for the shot put at 15.83m. Then Senator Joey Lina is at the center, beside the spunky-looking Edward Lasquette, the pole vault national record holder at 5.00m.
Obiena is the only holdover from that by-gone era. In his late 30’s, the father of two is still the best Filipino pole vaulter. Coach Emer is a two-time SEA Games Pole Vault silver medalist (1993 and 1999). He has a personal best of 4.95m, set during the 1999 National Open.
Obiena’s 4.93m clearance (Taipei, 2008)
The Herculean Bruce Ventura won silver in the shot during the 1993 SEA Games in Singapore. The Filipino-American Lasquette, who set the now 18-year old Philippine record in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, is a three-time SEA Games champion (1991, 1993 and 1995).
During the early years of my track days, I could barely find write-ups about the Gintong Alay days. I was fortunate to stumble upon an old book, Philippine Sports Greats, which featured a lengthy piece on the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics High Jump bronze medalist, Simeon Toribio. Articles about the resurgence of Philippine athletics during the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s are also hard to come by. Looking for actual clips of those storied races online is an impossibility! And don’t expect our sensationalist TV networks to air replays of past Philippine track & field campaigns.
Hence, I had to make do with meager competition results available in the world wide web, taking pride in the fact that a handful of my compatriots had distinguished themselves in international competition. Yell Carreon’s insightful interviews with Hector Begeo and John Lozada and Zytrexx’s nostalgic historical piece on Toribio and Miguel White are rare informative examples.
It’s quite unfortunate how Filipinos today hardly even remember the sporting heroes of our past. Aside from big names like Lydia de Vega-Mercado and Elma Muros-Posadas, most of our local athletics greats have been almost forgotten by the very people – the very country – they fought so hard for.
If archived footage or even detailed write-ups somehow find its way into the mainstream, perhaps a new generation of Filipino athletes – not just track & field athletes – will be inspired by those feats of greatness to do better than their forebears. Indeed, Filipino sports has so much more to offer.
September 15, 2010Posted by on
One of my favorite world records is Roman Sebrle’s 9,026 points in the Decathlon. Sebrle is the only man ever to have gone above the 9,000 point barrier in the grueling 10-discipline, 2-day event. His countryman Tomas Dvorak (8,994), Dan O’Brien (8,891) and the legendary Daley Thompson (8,847) went tantalizingly close to breaking the barrier, but only the indefatigable Roman Sebrle himself was able to achieve this momentous milestone.
I’ve always admired and envied the multi-events. Admired – since they had to learn 10 disciplines, contributing to a holistic experience of the sport. Envied – because among all the events in athletics, the decathlon is without a doubt the most grueling and draining. Decathletes (and heptathletes) are “the world’s greatest athletes,” as King Gustav V of Sweden told the 1912 Olympic Champion, Jim Thorpe.
The elite level decathletes (and heptathletes) are the most impressive of all, needless to say. With their mastery of the 10 disciplines (or 7), the best times of a particular world-class decathlete can rival or even exceed the respective, individual national records of a small country like the Philippines. In Sebrle’s mythical 9,026 point performance, his 8.11m leap in the long jump and his 13.92s time in the 110m high hurdles are better than the current Philippine records of 7.99m (Henry Dagmil) and 14.76s (Alonzo Jardin), respectively.
In terms of overall personal bests, Sebrle’s best clearance of 5.20m in the Pole Vault exceeds Edward Lasquette’s 5.00m vault. Likewise, the Czech’s farthest throw in the shot put, 16.47m, is better than Bruce Ventura’s 15.83m Philippine record.
Naturally, the Philippines’ best decathlete, my former coach Fidel Gallenero (6,963), was light years away from the standards of Sebrle.
If for some far-fetched reason, Sebrle switched allegiance to the Philippine flag at his prime, he could have set at least 5 national records in one decathlon!
Sebrle is without a doubt a legend in athletics. Even at 35 years old, Sebrle is far from retired, having competed at the 2010 Doha World Indoor Championships. Being the elder statesman of the sport and his event, Sebrle is a role model for track athletes of all ages and ability.
And he can belch out a mean song number too, endearing the 2004 Olympic Champion to this karaoke aficionado!