High altitude, key to Philippines athlete’s success

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Friday, January 24, 2014

FOR athletes training at the Philippine Sports Commission in Teacher’s Camp, focus becomes the key to earning the highest spot in the podium despite other extracurricular activities outside sports.

OIC Camp director Juanito Smith, who works at the PSC training camp for three years said, “It all boils down to the characters of the athletes training here, if he intends to focus on succeeding in his sport despite all odds, he will.”

Smith, a former athlete in marathon event during his college days at the University of Baguio added the camp offers the best training facility for acclimatization prior to big sporting events like the Southeast Asian Games, where most of the Phl contingent trains for months before the biennial meet.


But despite this amenity, the Philippines landed seventh spot, garnering only 29 golds, 34 silvers and 38 bronze medals.

Smith explained during the Ilocos Region Athletic Association days, they, including the Phl team athletes in track and field, trained in Baguio for acclimatization and adaptation to the cold weather.

“When Mike Keon handled the Gintong Alay program, it became a strict regimen for athletes aspiring to don the national colors,” Smith said.

“When we were ordered to train at Teacher’s Camp, we all trained there including coaches who had to stay here and keep an eye on their athletes progress,” Smith said while recalling his experience.

“There were no pampering, we washed and cleaned our quarters, and we are monitored by our coaches and camp director,” he added, “And I think, the program produced good results in terms of medal haul, and athlete’s discipline,” Smith concludes.

Then and now

“It is progress, now, the PSC offers everything to athletes, laundry, food allowances and better facilities are on hand here at the camp for them to enhance their athletic abilities,” he added, pointing to the Tartan covered oval track.

The PSC facility at Teacher’s Camp was built in 1979 during the Gintong Alay program. But it was in 1990 when it was fully developed by the Commission improving the sports facilities, adding a weight room, boxing gym with their own weight room, additional athlete’s quarters were built, recalled Smith.

Asked on how the athletes who trained at the camp fared in the recent SEA games, Smith said, “It’s difficult to say, some did good and some did not do well, I guess it’s the motivation and focus of the athlete which had an impact in his or her performance.”

“Just look at Archand Christian Bagsit, our Gold medalist in 400 meter run and 4x4 relay in the recent Myanmar SEA games, he’s already back here in the Camp continuing his regimen and training,” Smith pointed out.
“That’s focus and dedication,” Smith added.

Same with Bagsit

“Finocus ko po talaga lahat sa training ko dito yung pagkapanalo ko sa Myanmar,” said the lanky former Letran basketball player.

“Gustong gusto ko po talaga dito kasi maganda yung klima at ok naman lahat ung facilities dito sa Camp para sa akin,” Bagsit added.

Bagsit, a senior student of Letran taking up Financial management, had to stop going to school not because of financial problems but because he intended to focus in his career as an athlete in track and field.

Giving credit to Letran track coach Gerry Atabay and trainer Benjamin Humangit for developing his ability and speed, Bagsit then pulled out of the basketball team and focused in track event starting out in the high jump, long jump and triple jump and 200 meter sprint events, matching his 5’10” frame.

“Maganda naman ang support ng parents ko kaya at home po ako dito,” Bagsit explained.

“Compared sa ibang bansa pag nakita mo po ang mga facilities nila eh ‘wow’ and masasabi mo pero kumpleto din naman po dito, sa tingin ko po nasa atleta na lang kung paano niya disiplinhain sarili niya,” Bagsit added.

In some instances, the coach should be the sole motivation of the athlete and his driving force to excel, but Smith said he have seen some athletes training here even without the guidance from their coaches and most of the time, these athletes earn the lowest spot in international events.

The athlete must take all his focus in his discipline, he must know how to help himself either full with coaching or with minimal coaching, Smith points out.

The Wushu generation

The Baguio Wushu team, who for years created some of the country’s best gold medal haulers in the SEA games, continue to train at the PSC track oval for their endurance and other regimen.

The likes of Daniel Parantac, Edward Folayang, and Mark Eddiva and other Wushu athletes take training seriously.

While the PSC track oval has become the second home for some of the PHL athletes preparing for international sporting events, world class boxers Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire and Onyok Velasco also trained in the Summer Capital for their high altitude preparations while some Baguio bred athletes had to shy away and make do with the City’s own athletic oval.

Once considered a promising area to stage large sporting events like the IRAA in the seventies, the Baguio Athletic Bowl is slowly dilapidating into a time withered stadium.

But then again, for the younger generations of athletes in Baguio, all they have to do is to make every training day worthwhile with what the stadium has to offer them.

In the word’s of former Philippine Volleyball Federation president Pete Mendoza, “Sayang talaga nu awan ti facility development para ti atleta tayo, apan to met lang amin ti awan nga pinagrigatan para ti sumaruno kenyada uray n u ada potential da.”

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 25, 2014.


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