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Tag Archives: marestella torres
November 14, 2012Posted by on
Despite the peaks and troughs of the Philippine athletics scene, Filipino women have competed with distinction in the long jump for more than two decades. Since Elma Muros-Posadas’ maiden long jump win in the 1989 edition of the Southeast Asian Games, the Philippines had fallen short of the title only once. The last Filipino to win an Asian Games medal was the evergreen Muros-Posadas in 1994. Marestella Torres‘ emphatic win at the 2009 Asian Championships was the most high-profile achievement of a Filipino track & field in recent memory.
Katherine Kay Santos is poised to become the next best Filipino long jumper. The Baguio-based Santos is currently fifth in the Women’s Long Jump All-Time List (compiled by Andrew Pirie). She has a personal best of 6.25m, which she set en route to winning the 2011 Southeast Asian Games bronze medal. Illustrious names like Torres (6.71m), Muros-Posadas (6.56m), Lerma Bulauitan-Gabito (6.56m), and Lydia De Vega-Mercado (6.27m) are all ahead of Kat in the all-time list.
Santos is gifted with both raw flat out speed, having won several medals in national-level competition, and good jumping technique. The 22-year old is on the brink of barging into the big leagues. Although it’s a tad too early to say that she’s Torres’ heir apparent, the statistics show that the University of Baguio student is the Philippines’ second-best long jumper. Kat is actually a protege of Bulauitan-Gabito, herself a SEA Games gold medalist and an Olympian.
As she gains experience from regular exposure in the regional athletics circuit, it will only be a matter of time before Kat Santos makes her mark.
1. How did you get started with athletics?
When I was in 5th grade I wanted… to be part of the athletes in our school. But eventually the coach in our school hesitated to choose me. I didn’t know why [she did that]. But in [the] 6th grade I [pushed] myself to join [the] try outs. I proved that I can be one of them [the varsity athletes] and [the coach eventually] chose me.
2. What’s the most memorable moment of your track career?
Most memorable? Of course the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia. Maybe because it was my first time to compete in [the] SEA Games. [I had] mixed emotions.. (; In my 1st attempt to jump I was really shaking. Suppeeeeerrr. Hehe.
3. What’s your life-long dream?
To be an Olympian. ‘Diba? Sarap ng pakiramdam maging part man lang ng Olympics [It’s a great feeling to become part of the Olympics].
4. Name three other sports you’d love to do aside from athletics?
The 1st is synchronized swimming. I love watching it. [And also] sports climbing [and] sumo haha joke! The last is biking [cycling].
5. Who is your sporting idol?
My idol is DARYA KLISHINA. Ganda na [She’s beautiful], [a] model, and magaling pa [Darya excels] in our same event which is [the] long jump.
6. What do you when you are not on the track competing or training?
At home doing household chores, kulitan [playing] with my bunsong kapatid [youngest sibling] and my cousins na nakatira sa house namin [who live in our house], or sleep until noon… para makabawi sa pagod ng training [to recover from the exhaustion brought about by training].
7. What is your favorite pre-race pump-song?
Kahit ano lang [Anything]. Haha. Usually mga new ones na song [I usually listen to the new songs]… yung mga nauuso [the ones that are popular]! Gangnam Style. Haha lately yun!
8. Do you have a pre-competition ritual?
I just watch my diet mga [around] 2-3 weeks before the competition para magaan sa laro [so that I’ll feel light during the competition]. Kasi [Because] during preparation for such competition nagloload ako, so mabigat ako kapag sa [I bulk up in] training para makabuhat ng [to be able to lift the] target pounds pag nag weweigths training ako [in my training program].
9. Describe your dream vacation.
I want to be in a large and famous cruise ship and travel around the world. Astig diba? [Isn’t that cool?] (: Sarap mangarap, libre eh. [I love daydreaming. It’s free.]
10. Name three things you can’t live without.
Food! Water! Shelter! Siyempre [Of course, my] family ko. Daming money! And yung lifelong partner pag dumating na. I have no need for gadgets. (:
July 20, 2012Posted by on
In this day and age of Facebook, Twitter, and broadband connections, it is a lot easier to be a sports fan. One can subscribe to their favorite athlete on Twitter and Facebook, and get instantaneous updates straight from those sports personalities. Social media work hand-in-hand with traditional media to create a multi-dimensional sporting experience.
Olympian Rene Herrera and journalist Ed Lao share some of their photos from the hustle and bustle of faraway London.
For more London 2012 updates, please subscribe to Rene Herrera’s Facebook page.
July 20, 2012Posted by on
The 32-year old Torres is the national record holder for both the long jump (6.71m) and the triple jump (12.67m). She is a multiple Southeast Asian Games long jump gold medalist. Upsetting the biggest names in regional long jumping, Marestella won the 2009 Asian Championships title in Guangzhou. The powerfully compact Torres is a veteran of numerous major international events, having competed in three editions of the World Championships and three in the World Indoors. Her season’s best stands at 6.62m. Marestella is on her second Olympic team.
Like Torres, Herrera is a multi-titled national athlete. He has won five Southeast Asian Games gold medals in the 3000m steeplechase, from 2003 to 2011. The 33-year old has made the final in two editions of the Asian Games, an event spiced with a multitude of African-born athletes. He has a personal best of 8:49.39. His best time in 2012 is 9:05.84, set while winning the National Championships in Dumaguete. Rene will make his Olympic debut in London.
Torres has what it takes to barge into the long jump final, but it’s going to be an uphill climb as she goes head-to-head against a multitude of 7-meter and near-7 meter jumpers. The rainy and soggy London weather might just level the playing field a bit.
The Philippines’ hopes in Olympic Athletics might not be at par with the world’s best, but this won’t keep me from cheering my compatriots. Godspeed to Marestella Torres and Rene Herrera!
July 15, 2012Posted by on
I was ten years old when boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco won the silver medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games. Even though I have hazy memories of the fight, I can still feel the disappointment. Since then, our best Olympic hopes had fallen in the last three editions of the quadrennial event. Like the rest of the nation, I kept my hopes up each time our fancied amateur boxers and taekwondo jins donned the national colors in Sydney, Athens, and Beijing.
But an Olympic gold, much less a medal, has remained elusive.
I find it farcical each time our sports officials and politicians dangle cash incentives to our athletes, months or weeks prior the Games. Although it would surely add to the motivation for doing well, training for Olympic Glory takes more than just financial rewards. Even if our athletes excel in regional-level competitions, the international scene is several notches higher. You can’t turn a Southeast Asian Games medalist into an Olympic contender overnight. Our propensity for cramming is not a tried and tested approach to Olympic success.
Amidst all the internal bickering in Philippine sports and its structural flaws, I found myself disillusioned in the run-up to the London Olympics. I have written numerous articles on past Olympic champions from other countries. Except for the sporting feats of our past champions, but my mind goes blank each time I juxtapose the Philippines and the London Olympics.
As an athlete myself, I’ve always been enamored the Olympic ideal. The founder of the Modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, makes an apt description: “The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning, but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering, but fighting well.” In the years I’ve spent devouring all sorts of media about the Olympics, I consider John Stephen Akhwari’s and Derek Redmond’s experiences as the most moving.
Akwhari was a Tanzanian marathoner who finished dead last at the Mexico Olympic Games in 1968. Despite a painful knee injury, he hobbled on to the finish line to the loud cheers of the few spectators and volunteers left. Redmond competed in the 1992 Barcelona Games. At the 400m dash semifinal, he pulled a hamstring midway into the race. In tears and in obvious pain, the Briton bravely limped to complete the race, as his father ran to him from the stands.
Aside from sports like professional boxing, basketball, billiards and bowling, being a Filipino athlete is not a lucrative profession. Government support and public interest are scant, paling in comparison to the more established sporting nations. The national training facilities, at best, are spartan. To reach for one’s Olympic dreams is a struggle both athletic and financial.
As a Filipino, I’m hoping for a good result in London. Deep down, however, I know for a fact that another Olympic shut-down is possible. There will be finger-pointing when this happens, perhaps even a congressional inquiry. Expect to hear the usual pronouncements of new nation-wide sporting program. It’s all part of the vicious cycle of Philippine sports.
Our sports officials can bicker all they want, but one thing is for certain: our athletes are doing their utmost best under the circumstances The distinction of competing at the world’s highest stage is an achievement in itself.
The beauty of sport lies in the unexpected. Sometimes, the enormity of the moment could enable an athlete to transcend and deliver. Perhaps if the stars align in favor of the Philippines, one of our athletes might just reach the podium.
I long for the day when a Filipino finally tops an Olympic event. When I do see our athlete stand on top of the podium and hear “Lupang Hinirang” play in the background, I might just shed tears of joy. Until that moment comes, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best.
To the Filipino Olympians, godspeed!
The Philippine Contingent to the 2012 London Olympics
Mark Javier (Archery)
Rachel Cabral (Archery)
Rene Herrera (Athletics)
Marestella Torres (Athletics)
Mark Barriga (Boxing)
Daniel Caluag (BMX)
Tomoko Hoshina (Judo)
Brian Rosario (Shooting)
Jessie Khing Lacuna (Swimming)
Jasmine Alkhaldi (Swimming)
Hidilyn Diaz (Weightlifting)
January 12, 2012Posted by on
To be able to qualify for Olympic-level athletics, the aspiring athlete must meet a particular set of performance standards in specific span of time. For the men’s 100m dash, in example, there are the “A” and “B” standards, 10.18s and 10.24s, respectively. Ralph Soguilon’s 100m dash national record at 10.45s is more than two-tenths of a second slower than the “B” standard – light years away from an outright Olympic slot. Such is the case for most of our national records.
Amongst our elite athletes, Marestella Torres is the lone exception. En route to winning the 2011 SEA Games Long Jump gold, Torres went beyond the 6.65m “B” standard by six centimeters. Her 6.71m national record is more than enough for an outright Olympic slot.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer ran a story about Marestella Torres and Rene Herrera being given the mandatory athletics slots* for the 2012 London Olympics. I was particularly disturbed by the nonchalant tone. There was hardly any mention of the Olympic entry standards, save for single line from Go Teng Kok. Has Philippine athletics sunk so low that not qualifying for an Olympic slot has become the norm?
It’s sad to say that the answer is a resounding yes. Filipino track & field athletes have fallen so far behind the curve. Blame it on the sports officials, the media, the Philippine propensity for basketball or corruption: the fact remains that we are at the bottom of the athletics heap. If our homegrown boxers, swimmers, archers and taekwondo jins can bag Olympic berths, I’m sure our track & field athletes (with ample support, of course) can do the same.
One can harp about bagging dozens of medals in the Southeast Asian Games or dominating the general standings, even (think about the 2005 Manila SEA Games). But this doesn’t necessarily translate into Olympic success – or at the very least, Olympic participation. News of the Philippines fielding the smallest Olympic contingent in recent memory has been met with indifference. In contrast, the SEA Games debacle went, for a time, into the national headlines.
So long as our athletes struggle to even qualify for the world’s most prestigious sporting spectacle – as long as we prioritize low-key regional meets over the biggest stage of sport – I’m afraid that our dream of Olympic Gold will be no more than a far-flung fantasy.
* – Torres’ slot could be given to Melvin Guarte, should Torres’ 6.71m is formally recognized as meeting the “B” standard.
November 16, 2011Posted by on
I’ve been reading about the Philippine athletics results in the ongoing 26th Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia. To date, Filipinos have won only two gold medals, courtesy of Marestella Torres (Gold, Women’s Long Jump) and Rene Herrera (Gold, Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase). Other defending champions did not fare as well as Torres and Herrera, with the likes of Arniel Ferrera (Silver, Hammer Throw), Rosie Villarito (Silver, Javelin Throw) and Henry Dagmil, To the casual observer, the initial reaction would be one of disappointment. After all, two gold medals is way off the target of six set by the NSA president, Mr. Go Teng Kok.
Come to think of it, we’ve been relying on these marquee names for the past decade. Most of our top athletes are in their thirties. The sport demands much from one’s body. Hence, it is unsurprising to see the likes of former champions win silver medals, instead of golds. Considering the fact that athletics in the Philippines is a fringe sport, our sporting heroes should be lauded. Aside from lucrative, mainstream sports, being a Filipino athlete isn’t exactly the most lucrative of careers.
Despite missing the fighting target, it’s good to see young turks like Melvin Guarte and Archand Bagsit excelling in regional competition. The 20-year old Bagsit snatched the silver medal in the 400m dash, thanks to a blistering finish, on top of his 4x400m relay silver. Guarte, still a junior, won silver medals in the 800m and 1500m runs, setting national senior and junior records in the former.
Regardless of how disorganized our local athletics scene is, the exploits of our young athletes speak volumes about the enormous potential of Philippine track & field. Should the ills of athletics and Philippine sports be miraculously cured, expect the Filipino athlete excel not just in the Southeast Asian Games, but also in the world stage.
August 30, 2011Posted by on
August 1, 2011Posted by on
The Daegu World Athletics Championships is just around the corner. South Korea will play host to the most prestigious gathering track & field athletes after the Olympic Games, the third time for an Asian country to do so.
Sprinter Usain Bolt, in light of his spectacular array of world records, is the undeniable front-act. Other crowd drawers are
triple jumper Teddy Tamgho of France (a stress fracture prematurely ended Tamgho’s season, unfortunately), high jumper Blanka Vlasic and javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway. The Kenyan 800m runner David Rudisha, fresh from a slew of world records last season, is on the hunt to rewrite the two-lap mark once more. The sprints, as always, will provide fast-paced action as the rest of the world pits their sprinting might against the dominant Jamaicans and Americans.
July 13, 2011Posted by on
The Asian championships were held in the Japanese city of Kobe from 8-11 July 2011. This is the region’s most prestigious competition, a good warm-up for the Daegu World Championships in August. The big guns of Asian athletics took center stage, despite the absence of a few. Japan (11-10-11), according to an IAAF report, topped the medal standings for the first time since 1981, edging out powerhouse China (10-12-5).
Liu Xiang 刘翔, as expected, lorded it over the sprint hurdles field, setting a new championship record of 13.22s. Shi Dong Peng 史冬鹏 (13.56s) was a far second as he overtook South Korean veteran Park Tae-Kyong 박태경 (13.66s). Thailand’s Chamras Rittedet was the fastest Southeast Asian as he went under the thirteen second barrier (13.96s). Malaysia’s Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian ran 14.03s.
Mutaz Essa Barshim‘s 2.35m winning mark in the high jump was, without a doubt, the highlight of the meet. The reigning World Junior Champion tied the second best mark in 2011, en route to setting his nth Qatari record. Barshim, at merely 20 years of age, is a potential medalist in Daegu – should he overcome the nerves of high-level senior competition.
The Philippine delegation came home empty-handed, as defending long jump champion Marestella Torres missed out on a podium finish. The Filipino record holder could only managed a best leap of 6.34m in the fourth round, way off her 6.51m winning jump in Guangzhou two years ago. Torres has a season’s best of 6.38m, set in Bacolod during the PNG. Rene Herrera clocked 9:12.34 in the 3,000m steeplechase, good enough for eighth place in a race dominated by naturalized Africans. Arniel Ferrera, meanwhile, narrowly missed the sixty-meter mark in the hammer throw (59.25m), placing ninth in a field of eleven. Ferrera set a season’s best in Kobe. Heptathlete Narcisa Atienza scored 5,041 points and ranked seventh.
As expected, Japan’s 2009 World Championship bronze medalist Yukifumi Murakami 村上 幸史 dominated the javelin throw his 83.27m fourth round flick. Murakami’s third round throw of 80.93m was also better than Jae-Myoung Park’s 80.19m.
Host country Japan stamped its class on every single relay event. The winning margins were quite massive. The Japanese men won by a straightforward eight-hundredths of second in the 4x100m relay over the Hong Kong squad, which surprisingly beat regional powers China and the slick-passing Thais.
In a high quality men’s long jump competition, four men went beyond eight meters. Su Xiongfeng won gold with his 8.19m leap second round leap. The 2009 World Youth Champion, Suphanara Sukhasvasti, clinched second with 8.05m. According to Jad Adrian, this is the best ever jump by a Southeast Asian.
Despite the absence of 2010 World Indoor Champion Olga Rypakova, Xie Limei 谢荔梅 entertained the Japanese crowd with her world-class 14.54m mark in the women’s triple jump. Uzbekistan’s Valeriya Kanatova (14.14m) placed second as India’s Mayookha Johny മയൂഖ ജോണി won bronze en route to setting a 14.11m Indian record.
May 30, 2011Posted by on
The annual Philippine National Open Invitational Athletics Championships was held in Bacolod, Negros Occidental; as part of the Olympic-style program of the POC-PSC National Games. The newly-renovated track of the Panaad Stadium, site of many an Azkals game, was the scene of battle. The event was an opportunity for aspiring elite athletes to showcase their talents. An amalgam of crack international campaigners, collegiate standouts, as well as promising grassroots talents comprised the lineup of athletes.
Aside from a few snags in the processing of the official ID cards, the athletics competition was fairly well-run. The technical officials, composed of both Manila-based and provincial personnel, were a well-drilled lot. The green-clad PSC volunteers, despite their inexperience, were exuberant in the way they did their jobs.
There were some instances when the start of a race was pushed back because of equipment breakdown, particularly with the automatic timing system. Nevertheless, it was a relatively well-organized local competition, according to a foreign coach.
The Sprints and Hurdles
In light of the oft-revised schedule, only a handful of foreign entries from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia made it to Bacolod. The most illustrious name among the visitors was Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian, the 2007 SEA Games gold medalist in the 110m high hurdles. The Malaysian did not disappoint, as he outclassed a lean local sprint hurdles field, stopping the clock in 14.1s. Laguna’s Robin Tuliao was a far second at 14.8s. Kota Kinobalu’s prolific Eddie Edward won over many-time UAAP seniors champion Romnick Herida of UAAP Athletics (11.19s), compatriot Fahrul Nazri (11.32s) and Australia-based Andrew Pirie of the Philippine Pole Vault Club (11.34s) in the century dash.
Patrick Unso of TMS Ship-DLSU reigned supreme in both the junior 110m high hurdles (14.3s) and the 400m low hurdles (54.47s). Robert Francisco of Laguna (14.5s) came second to Unso in the boy’s sprint hurdles.
There was some controversy in the men’s hurdles races, as national team member Junrey Bano was disqualified moments before participating in the 400m low hurdles qualifying. Nevertheless, Bano was allowed to take part, in spite of being officially out of the competition. The country’s top low hurdler stopped the clock at a classy 52.80s. UAAP Athletics’ Jeson Ramil Cid officially won the event in 54.60s.
Isidro del Prado, Jr., whose illustrious father still holds the Philippine 400m national record, surprisingly false started in qualifying, meriting an instant disqualification for the talented quarter-miler. In the absence of Del Prado, 2007 SEA Games gold medalist Julius Nierras (48.55s) and 20-year old Christian Bagsit (49.03s) made it a one-two finish for the Philippine Air Force. Del Prado (22.05s) nipped Nierras in the half-lap, beating the veteran by a massive four-hundredths of a second. Zamboanga’s Noli Torres (50.79s) and Aldrin Gonzales (51.36s) ruled the boy’s 400m dash.
13-year old Mary Diesto, a student of nearby Bacolod Tay Tung High School, won the girls’ 100m dash with an impressive 13.20sc clocking. Filipino-American Princess Joy Griffey walloped FEU’s Hanelyn Loquinto in the 200m dash, 25.24s to 26.03s, despite being weakened by food poisoning.
National training pool member Zara dela Virgo, slowed down by a knee injury sustained at the recently-concluded Thailand Open, failed to finish the Women’s 100m hurdles. Jennylyn Progio ruled the poorly-attended two-woman final, stopping the clock in 15.8s. Nerve pain saw the withdrawal of national record holder Sheena Atilano from the sprint hurdles field. Capiz’ Jaycel Cabaguena (15.9s) was impressive in the girls’ race, romping to a commanding 1.3s gap over TMS Ship’s Lea Casilihan (16.6s).
FEU’s Josie Malacad (1:02.79s) edged out Laguna’s Keizel Pedrina in the one-lap hurdles race. Malacad won over her UST rival by almost two-seconds.
The Distance Events
The country’s long distance aces, Rene Herrera and Eduardo Buenavista were virtually untouchable in their respective events. Herrera (9:06), a many-time SEA Games champion, completely demolished UAAP Athletics’ Christopher Ulboc (9:18.22) in the 3,000m steeplechase. Similarly, Buenavista ran a punishing last lap to reign supreme in the 10,000m run.
San Sebastian’s Mervin Guarte set a new national junior record in the 1,500m run, en route to winning the senior title. Guarte ran below 4:00 in the metric mile, notching a fine time of 3:57.83.
The United Track & Field Team, composed of Diesto, Shaira Hernandez, Raye Deanne Ferrer and Hannah Malate – all 13 year old’s from Bacolod Tay Tung – eked out a surprise win in the girls’ 4x100m relay. The Capiz team, the pre-race favorites, false started; hence, meriting instant disqualification.
The Men’s 4x100m relay proved exciting, as a fast-finishing Rayzam Shah of Kota Kinabalu almost ran down the locals on the home straight. The UAAP Athletics quartet of Jhon Rey Bardos, Abraham Alzona, Herida and Cid – a powerhouse lineup of UAAP foes – won first place in 42.05s. The PAF team, anchored by Bagsit, came in second place at 42.07s, three-hundredths of a second from the Malaysian team.
The Philippine Air Force foursome of Nierras, Eduardo Alejan, Christopher Demata and Bagsit proved too much for the fancied UAAP squad. The Ernie Candelario-trained Airmen built up an insurmountable 5 second lead, stopping the clock in 3:14.42.
The Decathlon and the Field Events
The indefatigable Cid, the national junior record holder, scored 6,287 points in the Men’s Decathlon, propped up by dominating performances in the 110m high hurdles, 400m dash and the 1,500m run. National training pool member Manuel Lasangue was a far second with 5,670 points.
National team stalwarts Arniel Ferrera and Rosie Villarito each grabbed double golds, with the former taking titles in his best event, the hammer throw (57.55m), and the discus throw (43.23m). Villarito, competing for Laguna, won both the women’s shot put and javelin throw.
Despite being six meters off his personal best, national record holder Danilo Fresnido (64.20m) easily won over SEA Games medalist Dandy Gallenero (61.40m). Baguio-based Eleazer Sunang almost broke the long-standing shot put national record, heaving the implement to a distance of 15.57m. In frustration, the burly Sunang threw the shot from a standing position after the competition, easily reaching 16.00m!
Negros Occidental’s Maika de Oro handily won the Girls’ Discus Throw with her 37.36m heave. The hometown bet also struck gold in the shot up with her 10.18m throw.
Jerome Margallo of Team Hua Liong topped the Men’s Pole Vault. The national pool member cleared 4.25m, way off his 4.64m best, but more than enough to edge out Laguna’s Robin Bunda, the ageless Emerson Obiena and UAAP Athletics’ Zek Valera. Bunda, Obiena and Valera all cleared 4.15m. On the distaff side, Riezel Buenaventura – another Obiena protege – was virtually unopposed. The FEU alumna flew to a new personal best of 3.81m. TMS Ships’ Alex Smith, the national junior record holder, was a far second at 2.70m.
The come-backing Benigno Marayag narrowly lost to Nino Espinosa of Laguna in the Men’s long jump. Both jumpers had best jumps of 7.21m, but the latter won over the triple jump specialist on count-back.
Baguio’s Catherine Kay Bautista twice finished second behind Marestella Torres. Torres, the national record holder for both the long jump and the triple jump, was in a class of her own, notching winning leaps of 6.38m and 12.55m. The exuberant Bautista leaped 6.09m and 12.09m, on top of winning the 100m dash (12.58s) over national training pool member Loquinto. Bautista, who is coached by former jumps queen Lerma Baluaitan-Gabito, is a sure cinch to be bumped up to the training pool, in light of her performance in the horizontal jumps.
View the complete athletics results from the PSC website
December 3, 2010Posted by on
The Philippine Amateur Track & Field Association (PATAFA), one of the country’s best-performing NSA’s sent a crack team of Southeast Asian Games champions in the likes of hammer thrower Arniel Ferrera, steeplechaser Rene Herrera and distance runner Eduardo Buenavista. Henry Dagmil, a near 8.00-meter long jumper, and javelin throwers Danilo Fresnido and Rosie Villarito, also competed.
The Philippines sent its best athletes, led by 2010 Asian long jump champion Marestella Torres, to the Guangzhou Asiad, only to come home empty-handed. The Philippine athletics medal drought continues, with the country’s best hope, Torres, losing the bronze medal on count back.
- Marestella Torres (4th, Women’s long jump)
- Henry Dagmil (6th, Men’s long jump)
- Rosie Villarito (9th, Women’s javelin throw)
- Arniel Ferrera (9th, Men’s hammer throw)
- Danilo Fresnido (10th, Men’s javelin throw)
- Rene Herrera (13th, Men’s 3,000m steeplechase)
- Eduardo Buenavista (17th, Men’s marathon)
Aside from Torres, the closest to the medal standings was Dagmil at 6th place with his 7.45m leap. The Men’s long jump was won by South Korea’s Kim Deok-hyeon’s (김덕현). The Olympic and World Championships veteran was far from his lifetime best of 7.99m and his season’s best of 7.77m.
SEA Games hammer throw record-holder Arniel Ferrera placed 9th (58.06m). Tajikistan’s Dilshod Nazarov topped the field with his 76.44m heave. Likewise, Herrera finished 13th in the 3,000m steeplechase despite stopping the clock at season’s best of 9:02.93. The event was won by Tareq Mubarak Taher (8:25.89), a Kenyan-born Bahraini.
Photos from Daylife and Getty Images
The ageless Danilo Fresnido threw the javelin to 70.35m, good enough for 10th. Japan’s 2009 World Championship bronze medalist Yukifumi Murakami 村上 幸史 dominated the competition with his 83.15m mark. On the distaff side, Rosie Villarito (48.87m) finished second to the last at the women’s javelin throw competition. Japan scored a golden double in the javelin with Ebihira Yuki’s winning heave of 61.56 m.
Buenavista, the country’s long-time distance running ace, ran a puzzling if not utterly shocking race in the Men’s marathon (2:45.07), a far cry from his national record of 2:18.44. According to a report by the Manila Standard, Buenavista will be facing a PATAFA inquiry on his Asiad performance. (As an athlete myself – and a huge admirer of Vertek – I do not want to judge. Let us hear it from the man himself. For all we know, he could have been nursing an injury. Let us keep in mind that Vertek has competed with distinction for Flag and Country in countless other meets).
SEA Games success does not automatically translate into Asian Games success. Save for Torres and Dagmil, the level of competition in the Asiad was simply too much for our best track & field athletes. The government and the private sector did not spend millions on our track & field athletes, unlike the Smart Gilas Basketball team which finished 6th overall Filipino track athletes, like most Filipino athletes not playing in the PBA or not named Manny Pacquiao, are marginalized. Our lone IAAF-accredited stadium is currently under renovation with much controversy. Even if Torres and Dagmil had training and competition stints abroad, our domestic jumping facilities pale in comparison with our Asian neighbors.
The rest of the Asiad athletics campaigners aren’t as well-supported like Torres and Dagmil.
Indeed, you reap what you sow.
With their circumstances in mind, I cannot in all honesty lay the blame on our athletes alone. In fact, I’m welling up with much admiration for those eight brave souls – to go against Asia’s best for one’s motherland is an honor accorded to so few!
But then again, the words of POC’s Romasanta (a former Gintong Alay official) sounds promising. He emphasized focus on medal rich sports like gymnastics, swimming and athletics. I am not lambasting the well-meaning support of Smart for the country’s national basketball program since like most Filipinos, I’m a basketball fanatic as well. I’m just hoping that some kind corporate entity back an honest-to-goodness athletics program, similar to golf’ and shooting’s respective grassroots development schemes.
I’m a firm believer that a million pesos spent in the course of an athlete’s years-long preparation is money well-spent than a million peso reward given after winning a SEA Games, Asian Games or Olympic Gold.
November 30, 2010Posted by on
I had my first taste of national level competition back in May 2003. I was 17 years old, barely out of high school. I shaved off 1.44s off my personal best over the high hurdles, qualifying for the semis with a time of 17.55s. The 2003 Nationals was also the first time I encountered the Philippine national record holder for the sprint hurdles, Alonzo “Dudoy” Jardin.
More than 7 years since that day, my recollections are just vague flashbacks. But one instance stood out. At the dugout of the Rizal Memorial Stadium, I wished him the best of luck as he went head-to-head against Thailand’s Suphan Wongsriphuck, then Southeast Asia’s best sprint hurdler.
The Philippines is not known for its athletics tradition, much less the high hurdles. Aside from notable exceptions like Lydia de Vega-Mercado, Elma Muros-Posadas, Isidro del Prado and Marestella Torres, most of our athletes wilt under Asian-level competition. The Philippines’ last Olympic medals in athletics were won way back in the 1930’s (Miguel White in the 400m low hurdles and Simeon Toribio in the High Jump). Hence, it is not surprising that Dudoy’s 14.75s national record is light-years away from the Olympic “B” standard of 13.72s.
If I can choose one compatriot whom I look up to in the sprint hurdles, I can only name one – Alonzo Jardin. Don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate Coach Nonoy Unso’s hurdling prowess, but since I haven’t seen any footage of his best years, I cannot make an honest assessment of the athletics legend. The same reasoning applies to my mentor, national decathlon record holder Fidel Gallenero. Although he taught me the fundamentals of hurdling form, I haven’t seen him race.
In order for me to look up to someone – as a hurdler to another hurdler, I have to base my standards on more than just times and reputation.
Dudoy was different. Even if he shifted to the decathlon in the twilight of his competitive years, I had much respect for his hurdling technique. As a sprint hurdler myself, I put more importance in one’s efficiency of clearance than to brute sprinting power. Yes, the 110m high hurdles is a sprint race. But in order to fully appreciate this wonderful event, one must look at it beyond sprinting alone.
Hence, for me, hurdling is an art form. Everytime I watch Liu Xiang, Allen Johnson and Colin Jackson race clips, my jaws drop in awe at the symphony of speed. As a student of the event, I take much aesthetic pleasure from watching these great technicians demonstrate their craft.
In the past 10 years I spent as a sprint hurdler, Dudoy is – without a doubt – the best exemplar of the Filipino hurdling artist.
I had the privilege of racing the Filipino champion twice in my career. The first time was during the 2006 National Open. It was the finals of the sprint hurdles, Dudoy was at the lane beside mine.
I wound up a far fourth place (15.65s – a new PB) behind Romel of TMS Ship (15.1), Joemary Padilla (15.1) and Orlando Soriano (15.5s). It turned out that Dudoy didn’t even finish clearing the 1st hurdle, to save his legs for the grueling decathlon.
Months later, we went at it again. This time, he emphatically stamped his class, edging out Padilla of Mapua. I placed a distant 3rd (15.6). Dudoy ran a 15.1, if I’m not mistaken.
Emer Obiena and Fidel Gallenero once told me about an Australian trainer’s awe at learning that Dudoy is only a a high 14 second sprint hurdler. With his hurdling proficiency, the Australian reasoned, Dudoy should be running in the 13 seconds. Perhaps it was his lack of flat out speed (he ran the 100m in around 11.3 to 11.4). An Olympic-level hurdler should be able to run the 100m in at least 10.5s.
The last time I saw Dudoy was in 2009. I was in the midst of my first, ill-fated comeback. He was training again after tearing the ligaments in his knee after a freak javelin training incident.
Alonzo Jardin’s 14.75s national record is bound to be broken one of these days. The younger Unso has the most potential to reclaim the national mark of his illustrious father. In a country where athletes from the less popular sports tend to get marginalized, Jardin will probably be forgotten by the generations of tomorrow.
Writing this piece is the least I can do for a fellow hurdler. Never mind the results; never mind the accolades.
Alonzo Jardin is one of the best, if not the best, hurdling technicians this country of ours had ever produced.
November 24, 2010Posted by on
Ace Filipina long jumper, Marestella Torres, narrowly missed landing a podium finish at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. Torres made only one legal jump (her first round attempt of 6.49m), which was good enough for 4th place. The Filipino national record holder at 6.68m lost to the Ukzbekistani Heptathlon Champion, Yuliya Tarasova, on countback.
Photos from Daylife and Getty Images
Torres was tantalizingly close to becoming the first-ever Filipino track & field athlete to win an Asian Games medal since the legendary Elma Muros-Posadas’ long jump bronze in the 1994 Hiroshima Games. In fact, the powerfully-built long jumper held the lead for the first two rounds, before Rypakova (the Asian triple jump record holder at 15.25m!) bettered Torres’ leap by 1 cm. Torres is a three-time SEA Games long jump champion and the surprise winner in last year’s Asian Athletics Championships.
According to a Manila Bulletin article, Torres twisted her ankle in the 2nd round.
With Torres’ heartbreaking 4th place finish, the last Filipino hope for an athletics medal is long jumper Henry Dagmil. The long jump is an unpredictable event. In the event where the word “Beamonesque” was coined, anything can happen. Unless you’re a Carl Lewis, rock-hard consistency is hard to come by.
The competition could have gone both ways. Had Maris made a legal jump in one of those failed attempts, she could have won gold! A 4th place finish is a respectable result nonetheless. We’re proud of you Maris! Your time will come!
October 5, 2010Posted by on
Since it’s Asian Games time again, I couldn’t help but watch Liu Xiang’s 刘翔 gold medal-winning performances in Busan and Doha. The 2002 Busan race was memorable. I was just starting out with the sport. I became an instant Liu Xiang fan once I saw him race! I even recorded the event on VHS; hence the grainy format.
2002 Busan Asian Games – 110m High Hurdles (from Todor Krastev):
- Liu Xiang 刘翔 (CHN) – 13.27s
- Satoru Tanigawa (JPN) – 13.83s
- Park Tae-Kyong 박태경 (KOR) – 13.89s
- Dongpeng Shi 史冬鹏 CHN 13.92s
- Mubarak Atah SAR 14.07s
- Mohammed Aissa Al-Thawadi QAT 14.26s
- Mohd Faiz Mohammed MAS 14.57s
- Jung-Ho Lee KOR 14.61s
Satoru Tanigawa of Japan was a far second, almost six hundredths of a second behind the then 19-year Liu Xiang. 18-year old Shi Dong Peng 史冬鹏 – the other half of the high hurdling Chinese duo – dropped out of contention for the medals after he clipped a hurdle. 2002 was the year Liu Xiang broke Renaldo Nehemiah’s world junior record, when the latter stopped the clock at 13.12s (over senior hurdles, not the junior ones!) in Lausanne, Switzerland.Fast-forward four years later in the Doha edition of the Asiad. Liu Xiang is now a household name in China, with world championship bronze and silver medals, an Olympic gold and a world record (12.88s, also set in Lausanne) to his name.
Liu was a monster in the race. He was a lot quicker in between hurdles; his technical proficiency was at a different level. Liu was the epitome of the complete sprint hurdler. Now 23-year old, Liu was approaching the peak of his physical fitness. The winning margin was not as glaring as in 2002, since Shi Dong Peng is a decent hurdler in his own right. Liu clocked 13.15s as he practically jogged to the tape once the victory was his. Big Shi ran a respectable 13.28s, one-hundredths of a second off Liu’s winning time four years ago.
2006 Doha Asian Games – 110m High Hurdles (from Wikipedia)
- Liu Xiang (CHN) – 13.15s
- Shi Dong Peng (CHN) – 13.28s
- Naito Masato (JPN) – 13.60s
- Park Tae-Kyong (KOR) – 13.67s
- Tasuku Takonaka (JPN) – 13.88s
- Mohammed Essa Al-Thawadi (KSA) – 13.89s
- Lee Jung-Joon (KOR) – 13.91s
- Hassan Mohd Robani (MAS) – 14.04s
Comparing the results of the two editions, one can see the dramatic increase in the level of competition. If the 2002 silver medalist, Tanigawa (13.83s) ran in Doha, he would have placed a dismal fifth! Perhaps the improvement in the quality of performances can be attributed to Liu Xiang’s rise to the top – and the subsequent emergence of the sprint hurdles as the centerpiece event in Asian athletics.Under much criticism, Liu was given a “free pass” to the Guangzhou Asian Games. The 2004 Olympic Champion was allowed to miss the national championships, in light of his recovery from his troublesome Achilles. I personally believe that an athlete of Liu’s stature should be given this special treatment. It’s not like he doesn’t deserve the extra lee-way. Despite all the challenges, I wish the best for my idol!
Also, godspeed to all the Filipino athletes competing in the 2011 Asiad, especially the tracksters – Arniel Ferrera (Hammer Throw), Mariz Torres (Long Jump), Henry Dagmil (Long Jump), Rosie Villarito (Javelin Throw), Danilo Fresnido (Javelin Throw), Rene Herrera (Steeplechase) and Eduardo Buenavista (Marathon).
July 21, 2010Posted by on
Mika Santos answers the 10-for-10 quiz!
Santos started as volleyball player back in high school. In college, she gave track & field a shot. Although she had decent sprinting ability, her best event was definitely the pole vault. With her gymnastics background, Santos was tailor-made for athletics’ most technical discipline.
About a year after she started training for pole, Santos broke Marestella Torres‘ Philippine record with her 3.20m* leap in the Hong Kong Intercity Athletics Challenge. The comely Ateneo graduate competed in the 2005 Manila SEA Games.
The multi-talented Santos currently works as a travel writer, dabbles in the occasional print or TV ad and hosts her own travel-oriented show.
1.) How did you get started with track?
Felt I was too short to join the volleyball team
2.) What’s the most memorable moment of your track career?
Representing the Philippines for SEA Games 2005
3.) What’s your life-long dream?
Travel to Africa!
4.) Let’s lighten up a bit! What would you rather wear and why? Short shorts or tights?
Depends what event.. for long jump tights of course. For everything else, short shorts. Too hot in the Philippines!
5.) If you could be a Glee cast member, who will you be? And what song will you sing?
… I don’t know but I’d definitely date Puck.
6.) How I Met Your Mother or F.R.I.E.N.D.S.?
Both.. but FRIENDS is the classic I grew up with.
7.) Favorite movie?
Lots.. to name one, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
8.) Star Trek or Star Wars?
9.) If you could spend the rest of your days at any place in the world, which would you choose?
10.) Name three things you just can’t live without.
Sunblock, laptop (work!), and salsa shoes
11.) Fill in the blanks: I’ll run an ultra marathon just to go out with _________.
Thank you for answering, Mika!
* – Deborah Samson owns the current Philippine record of 4.11m.