Tag Archives: track

Tuesday Afternoon Thoughts

When I was a high school junior, my class had Ateneo Hall of Fame football coach Ompong Merida as its PE teacher. He gave these heartfelt lectures on the importance of staying physically feat. Coach Ompong was fond of shouting “fitness for life,” with a determined fist thrown high up the air, each time we bumped into his workouts. During one such PE class, he told us about how he had recently rediscovered the joy of running.

Fast forward eleven years later. As mentioned in my earlier posts, I’ve hung up my spikes for good, putting an end to a decade’s worth of competitive athletics. In the months that I’ve spent away from the track, I found a precarious sense of peace doing absolutely nothing training related. I took pleasure in bumming around and going out with friends, shunning the spartan routine of an athlete with a day job. Soon enough, the novelty of such a lifestyle wore off. I could not, for the death of me, stand spending late nights in bars every single weekend. I began to miss the fantastic feeling of endorphin high – and to some extent, athletics itself.

Coach Ompong’s impassioned fitness speeches came into mind. I can live without the hurdles, but I cannot comprehend being sedentary.

I began a gradual return to an active lifestyle, as I picked up the pieces of my shattered athletics dreams. The weekly basketball leagues at work has been the focal point of my  competitive urges. As the rancor gave way to acceptance, I made a gradual return to my old haunts and to a watered down version of an athletics conditioning program. Without the pressures of the balancing act of work and competitive athletics, I can honestly say that I’m happier. I have finally outgrown those youthful pursuits.

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Hoping for the Best

Photo from Nigel Chadwick

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)

The Blue Oval

For us alumni track athletes, an honest-to-goodness synthetic track oval was a far-flung dream. There have been talk of converting the high school’s grass track to an all-weather surface, but it obviously didn’t push through. Considering the Ateneo’s sprawling campus (and the deep pockets of its influential alumni), I’ve often wondered why my alma mater lagged behind the likes of La Salle Greenhills and a couple of international schools.

Almost four years since I last donned the Blue and White, the dream of having a synthetic track is gradually coming into fruition. According to the Guidon, the project is being financed by the Lorenzo family, heirs of the great Ateneo sportsman, Luis “Moro” Lorenzo. The track will be blue, a fitting tribute to the school’s patroness, Mother Mary. The eight-lane, IAAF-certified track and the world-class football pitch will rise on the historic Erenchun Field, named after the Ted Erenchun, the father of Ateneo football.

Click here to read “The Moro Lorenzo field in the works”

During yesterday’s afternoon’s ABL meeting at the Blue Eagle Gym, I noticed markers designating the soon-to-be-completed athletics track. Even if I have long sinced ceased competing for school, I can hardly hide my excitement!

The powers-that-be couldn’t have chosen a better spot. Back in the sixties, the field was circumscribed by a cinder track. Ateneo athletics greats like the late Jorge Ledesma and Boogie Pamintuan trained there. Mildewed Guidon issues from the olden days depict track & field competitions held on school grounds. However,  the Erenchun track was forgotten with the completion of the high school track.

Decades later, traces of old running oval still abound. Before the construction work began, the first bend was still quite visible. In summertime, one can walk around Erenchun Field and notice the weather-beaten markers of the running track itself.

Track Geek

My morning routine consists of reading the latest business news, local and foreign. Doing so is imperative in my line of work. In my first year as a bond trader, I read nothing but news about finance and the economy. Tidbits about sports, much less track & field were a rarity. Come to think of it, I’ve been out of the athletics loop since Beijing 2008 – that’s two years’ worth of track & field hibernation.

A remarkable thing happened back in early 2010. As I immersed myself in sports (basketball) yet again, I found myself browsing through my old cyberspace haunt – the International Association of Athletics Federations website. Soon enough, I was watching all sorts of track & field videos again, not just those from my past as a college-level hurdler.

I rediscovered a fountain of happiness. I no longer felt such a pretentious prick, making do with the tall man’s sport of basketball. As I picked up my spikes again, I felt so much at home. Indeed, it feels good to be honest to oneself.

Nowadays, I’m even more of a track & field geek than before. Prior to reading Bloomberg, Business World and the Inquirer’s business section, I start my morning news run with athletics updates – lots of it.

I start off with the IAAF, of course and browse through the following sites for interesting articles:

  1. European Athletics Association – in-depth and informative content from the hotbed of athletics.
  2. Spikes Mag – a lighter view on the sport. Plenty of interesting (and funny!) features.
  3. Universal Sports – An American site which has superb coverage of most major meets. I love the up-to-date video section and those fiesty blogs.
  4. Eurosport (Athletics) – mostly updates about British track.
  5. Athletics Australia – I love reading about the athletics scene down under.

Aside from the aforesaid track sites, I also follow the superb blogs of sprint hurdlers David Oliver and Derval O’Rourke since it has that personal touch devoid of most other athlete-oriented websites. I also read the following Filipino sports blogs for non-track & field content: (1) Bleachers Brew and (2) Fire Quinito.

In fact, I read so much track & field that I feel the constant urge to blog about most of the stuff I read. Thank heavens for Twitter since I could instantly post tidbits of track on the micr0-blogging site. It helps to control what little free time I have for my main blog. Besides, my blog is NOT a track & field news blog (although I post some interesting reports from time-to-time). The blog is supposed to document the travails of a former college-level athlete juggling career and training amidst the tumult of quarter-life.

With all these track & field content stuck in my head, finding a friend to talk about the latest track news is a daunting chore! In my years in the sport, I’ve only met a handful of people who can keep up with my athletics addiction!

I’m fortunate to live in this day and age of information, where everything – and I mean everything – is at the click of a mouse. Drat. That’s why I can’t stand NOT having an internet connection!

Picking up the pieces (10, 13 and 14 July 2010)

I got sick for the better part of the previous week. The lack of sleep finally took its toll. It started a couple of Saturday’s ago. From a light, irritating cough, it worsened to phlegm-laced asthma and a bad cold. It took a good 5 days for me to recover.

I had no other choice but to cut my already meager allotment of gym and track time.

10 July

Last Saturday, I was healthy enough to lift weights. I didn’t feel like training though. I just went through the motions of the gym and plyo exercises. I felt weak doing the core exercises and weights routine. Perhaps it was the week-long layoff rearing its ugly head. Heeding my body’s signals, I packed my bags and went home.

Workout:

Depth jumps

Bench press

Bicep curl

Tricep extension

Abs circuit

13 July

I went back to the track on Tuesday night to do some light sprints. My pacing was off. I couldn’t seem to follow the goals of the workout (70% effort, 150m strides). Halfway through my routine, I shunned my trusty iPod Shuffle (my training buddy for the past 2 years). The music blaring in my ears were starting to become a nuisance.

Track workout:

Light running drills

3x150m sprints (70-80% effort, 4 minutes rest)

14 July

Again, I felt sluggish. It took some complex plyo reps to wake my sleepy system. I went light on weights, doing 2 sets for each exercise. I’m particularly proud of my Cleans. The hard work I put honing my form is starting to bear fruit!

Workout:

Complex box jumps

Cleans (2×9-10)

Stiff-legged dead lift (2×10)

Dips + leg lifts (2×10)

Split Squats + Ab scissors  (2×10 per leg)

Single leg shoulder press + leg lifts  (2×10)

Great Nike Ads!

I like the Three Stripes better than the Swoosh. There’s just something elegant about Adidas. But then again, Nike makes the best sports ads.

Here are some of the Nike Ads I love best:

1.) Write the Future (2010) –
I’m not a football fan, but this somehow gets me into the World Cup groove. I like how the clip explores the various outcomes of a football match – and the touch of humour as well. The fact that Kobe and Federer are featured in the campaign bridges the football divide.

2.) Nike South Africa (2006) –
I used to recite the lines uttered in the video back in college. It exudes the gung-ho, no-fear attitude one has to have to succeed in sports. I’m not familiar with most of the South African athletes in the ad, aside from Godfrey Mokoena and the Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius, nevertheless, it’s a quite a powerful commercial.

3.) Nike Training –

Liu Xiang and Manny Pacquiao in one commercial. Need I say more?

4.) Nike Courage (2008) –

The following ad is short, but the awesome soundtrack and classic sporting moments (Liu Xiang, Carl Lewis, Derek Redmond, Michael Jordan!) featured in it contribute to one inspiring, bad-ass ad – the best among the three.

Track Beauty of the Week: Nadin Sergeeva (Надя Сергеева Nadezhda Sergeyeva)

Nadezhda Sergeyeva (Nadin Sergeeva Надя Сергеевa) is this week’s track beauty!

Nadin in Gotzis (Photo from Calgary Herald)

I stumbled upon her photo while reading up on the IAAF Combined Events Challenge in Gotzis. Nadin has a personal best of 6,118 points in the heptathlon, set in Kaunas back in 2009.

She has since shifted to bobsledding, an event well-suited to her athletic physique.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Photo credits:

Calgaryherald.com

Joel Velut

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