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Tag Archives: Philippines
November 30, 2012Posted by on
The 400m dash was my first track event. I took up the quarter-mile during the heyday of Ernie Candelario in the early oughts. Even if I eventually shifted focus to the sprint hurdles, the 400m dash has always been my favorite sprinting event.
Here’s a clip culled from old VHS tapes. The Philippines’ Julius Nierras nips Thailand’s Jukkaip Pojaroen for the 2007 Southeast Asian Games 400m dash title. Nierras stopped the clock at 46.56s, almost a tenth of second ahead of the Thai, thanks to the former’s Herculean effort in the last fifteen meters.
This was the Philippines’ fourth consecutive SEA Games 400m gold, starting from Ernie’s back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2003 and Jimar Aing’s triumphant race in Manila back in 2005.
Results (from Jad Adrian):
- Julius Nierras PHI 46.56
- Jukkathip Pocharoen THA 46.64
- Zaiful Zainal Abidin MAS 46.75
- Amran Raj Krishnan MAS 47.24
- Ahmed Sakeh Sumarsono INA 47.45
- Ernie Candelario PHI 48.09
- Suppachai Chimdee THA 48.42
- Yan Karubaba INA 48.72
November 27, 2012Posted by on
Emilio “Chieffy” Caligdong scores the winning goal against Vietnam!
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. (:
September 18, 2012Posted by on
Athletics competition is simple. The athletes who run the fastest, throw the farthest, and leap the highest (and longest) win. The victors are determined by the stopwatch and the measuring tape; their triumphant efforts immortalized in the annals of history.
Back in my college athletics days, I found inspiration in the feats of past Olympic champions. In the subsequent years, I consumed as much Olympic- and athletics-related material as possible. I’ve written quite a lot of articles about those champions from foreign lands, but when it came to my countrymen, I knew next to nothing.
One can argue that most of the past Filipino Olympic performances in athletics are forgettable. Track & field only takes centerstage every four years, so who remembers those who came in, say, 49th place?
Hence, I’ve compiled a list of all Filipino track & field Olympians since the 1924 Amsterdam Olympics, the first time our country took part in the quadrennial event. To be an Olympian is an achievement in itself. And I’m quite certain that statistical results and overall rankings are inadequate measures of one’s struggle just to be able to compete at the world’s highest stage.
I hope that this list would prod other Filipinos to read up on our past sporting champions – to look beyond the numbers – since each and every name in this list has a unique story. This is my small contribution in honoring their efforts for Flag and Country.
Note: This is still a work in progress. Please message me for corrections.
- “Athletics at the Summer Olympics.” (Wikipedia, 26 August 2012). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athletics_at_the_Summer_Olympics (27 August 2012)
- “Official Olympic Reports.” (LA84 Foundation, 2012). http://www.aafla.org/5va/reports_frmst.htm (27 August 2012)
- “Philippine Olympians: 1924 – 2004.” (Philippine Olympic Committee, 19 November 2004). http://www.olympic.ph/pdf/olympians.pdf (27 August 2012)
- “Philippines.” (Sports Reference, 2012). http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/countries/PHI/ (27 August 2012)
- Todor Krastev, “Sports Statistics – International Competition Archive.” (Sports Statistics, 26 August 2012). http://todor66.com/ (27 August 2012)
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)
July 8, 2012Posted by on
Andrew Pirie and Airnel Abarra have started a new athletics website, Pinoy Athletics. Primarily focused on the most relevant issues on Filipino track & field, the site will also dish out articles on the wider international scene.
Originally associated with Moriel Carreon’s Pinoymiler, the duo had branched out from their roots to cover a wider range of topics.
Pirie, with his impressive grasp of track & field statistics, is popularly known as the “Ernie Baron of Philippine Athletics.” The Filipino-New Zealander is a sprinter who has represented Mapua Insitute of Technology in our local NCAA. He is currently based in Australia, occasionally flying over to Manila to compete.
Armed with a Master’s Degree in Human Movement Science, Abarra is well-schooled in the science of sport. The Laguna-born Airnel is a public school teacher. His one-man coverage of the 2012 Palarong Pambansa athletics events rivaled even those from established media outfits.
With Pinoy Miler and Pinoy Athletics as its one-two punch, Philippine track & field now has a more potent web presence.
February 17, 2012Posted by on
This is crazy. Moments after knocking out his Argentinean opponent in the 10th round, Filipino Johnriel Casimero saw himself at the middle of a ravenous, boxing-mad mob. The newly-minted interim IBF light-flyweight titlist’s entourage, including his promoter, suffered various head injuries as a result of the hailstorm of chairs, bottles and thrown fists.
It turned out that Luis Lazarte, the losing hometown bet, even threatened the referee, which was caught on tape; thus, prompting the IBF to ban the 40-year old boxer. The Philippines has recalled its ambassador to Argentina and filed a diplomatic protest over the incident.
November 21, 2011Posted by on
December 19, 2010Posted by on
Cristian Gonzales’ accurate shot at the 43rd minute spelled the difference between victory and defeat. The Uruguayan-born striker made the stellar shot after several tantalizingly close attempts. The Philippines’ prolific goalkeeper, Neil Etheridge, did the best he could to stop the powerful volley from hitting the back of the net.
To quote the words of a college friend and football fan, RJ Jalijali, even Iker Casillas couldn’t stop that shot.
All game long, the Indonesians had more chances at goal. The Philippine defense was relatively more porous this time, with the Indonesians having quite a few close shaves. A combination of sheer luck and superb goal keeping kept the deficit from growing any further.
We had our chances though. Chris Greatwich, who owns 2 of the Philippines’ 3 goals this tournament, had a couple of missed opportunities. The New Jersey-based striker almost equalized with a header that landed on top of the net.
Nevertheless, it was a great run for the Azkals. Let’s just hope that all these new-found attention showered upon our national football team will not turn out to be mere flashes in the pan.
The magnificent Azkals run had piqued my interest on the beautiful game. I am still not a football fan though. I probably never will be. But I am definitely watching the next Azkals game aired on TV (whenever that is) – for flag and country.
There are just some things that transcend personal preferences.
December 17, 2010Posted by on
I missed the Azkals – Merah Putih game last night because of the company Christmas party. Thank heavens for instant uploads to Youtube.
I can hardly imagine the atmosphere in that gargantuan stadium – with the sea of red and white football-mad Indonesians. The sight of red fireworks amidst the 80,000-strong crowd was stunning.
Nevertheless, it was a relatively respectable result with the Philippines losing to Indonesia 0-1. It’s certainly a far cry the 0-13 shellacking in 2003 (or was it 2002?). Indonesia’s Uruguay-born striker Cristian Gonzales in the 34th minute, on a defensive lapse by Neil Etheridge. The Philippines’ Phil Younghusband failed to capitalize on some near misses.
December 5, 2010Posted by on
I just watched an entire football game on TV.
The Philippines stopped the Vietnamese juggernaut, two goals to nil. Fresh from drawing three-time AFF Champions Singapore, the Azkals followed it up with an emphatic victory over the regional powerhouse – the most resounding upset in AFF history!
Chris Greatwich scored a header in the first half, silencing the highly partisan crowd. Despite a multitude of goal attempts, the Vietnamese couldn’t find an opening into the solid Filipino defense anchored on captain Aly Borromeo and Fulham’s Neil Etheridge. Phil Younghusband buried the hapless, oftentimes luckless Vietnamese into a 0-2 deficit as the game wound to a close.
All throughout the game, this football ignoramus was in constant awe, grunting with each close call – cheering with each fine play!
Like I always say, I am not a football fan. I didn’t partake of the World Cup euphoria a few months ago. Frankly speaking, I did not see the point staying up until the wee hours of the morning just to watch a bunch of guys kick balls. Unless it’s an Ateneo football game or my sister’s team (or any of the other sisters’ team, if you get what I mean!), I don’t watch football at all!
I must admit that the resurgent Philippine national football team got me interested in the so-called beautiful game. My daily dose of Bleachers Brew also did much to get me into football mode. Call me overly patriotic, but when I see the “PHILIPPINES” written in front of a team jersey, I just get hooked. In a sense, this isn’t surprising, since international-level sporting spectacles hardly get featured in local TV.
December 5, 2010Posted by on
Like I always say, I love a good underdog story!
A few days ago, I heard the good news of the Philippine national men’s football team’s astounding draw over three-time AFF Suzuki Cup champions Singapore. Fil-Briton Chris Greatwich scored a match-tying goal in the dying minutes of the game.
I am not a football aficionado, but I do appreciate such stellar feats of athletic fortitude.In basketball terms, the Philippines drawing Singapore is like Laos’s national basketball team narrowly losing an overtime game against Smart Gilas!
This Philippine team is no push-over. The line-up is an amalgam of hardy full-blooded Pinoys and Fil-foreigners currently playing in European professional leagues. For instance, Neil Etheridge is an alternate goalkeeper for the English Premier League team Fulham! Now that’s impressive. In track & field terms, it’s like having a world championship finalist competing for the flag and country!
I have absolutely no qualms in recruiting foreign-born athletes with Filipino ancestry to beef up our national squads. It’s a lot better than naturalizing full-blooded foreigners. The “Azkals” is an apt name for our national football team. Azkal, askal or asong-kalye quite literally translates into a hardy, street-smart dog of mixed ancestry. In a sense it’s solid representation of the Filipino diaspora. An askal, after all, is the hardiest of dogs!
For in-depth analysis and timely updates on the Azkal’s AFF campaign, read Rick Olivares’ fine sports blog, Bleachers Brew.
The next assignment for the Philippine team is powerhouse Vietnam. The game will be aired live tonight at 7:30 PM on Star Sports, if I’m not mistaken.
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.
May 26, 2010Posted by on
In a country of almost 80 Million, with more than half below the poverty line, sports is far from the Philippines’ top concerns. With the Philippine Sports Commission’s shoestring budget, it’s not surprising that that the Philippines is a laggard in sports other than professional boxing (Manny Pacquiao!), bowling (Paeng Nepomuceno!) and billards (Efren “Bata” Reyes!).
When I went to Rizal for the yearly Track & Field National Championships, I was greeted by a sad sight. Gone were the droves of athletes from the provinces. The foreign entries were down to a bare minimum, in light of budget constraints on the part of the race organizers. Aside from the national athletes, the quality of the competition were nowhere near Southeast Asian-, much less Olympic- level (well, Henry Dagmil and Joebert Delicano are certainly capable of high 7 meter or even 8 meter jumps). Although promising athletes like the young Patrick Unso (broke the Junior 110m High Hurdle record – 0.99m) and Jeson Cid (smashed Coach Dari De Rosas’ 30-year junior Decathlon record) distinguished themselves on the track, no Senior National Records were broken.
Nevertheless, the running boom provides some faint glimmer of hope for the sport. If public interest could just trickle down from recreational running to the grander arena of full Track & Field competition, perhaps well-meaning corporate entities could infuse some much needed cash into the sport.
It’s a pity, really, considering the multitude of talent. I long for the day when Filipinos can be world beaters at the track again. Most Filipinos forget that we were once among the track & field elite! Back in 1932, the lanky Simeon Toribio won the High Jump bronze by clearing 1.97m (he could’ve won gold if not for the call of nature!). In 1936, it was Miguel White’s turn to finish 3rd in the grueling 400m Low Hurdles (52.8s).
We should honor this men for those Herculean feats. Let every young Filipino track athlete learn of their exploits.