Limpag: Pleasant surprises in first day of Milo

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Sunday, August 3, 2014


WHILE checking some of the results of the swimming competition of the Milo Little Olympics a few years ago, my first thought was that our swimmers have digressed.

The gold-medal winning times were ages away from the records, some of which were set as early as the first edition. It’s either that or those who set them were really just too good, one of those rare athletes who come once in a generation.

That observation coincided, too, with the drought of gold medals in swimming in national competitions. Was there something wrong or was it just part of the normal cycle of ups and downs?

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Then Saturday happened and all doubts have been erased. Our swimmers are good. It was just a matter of them peaking at the right moment.

Take the case of Psalm Deniel Aquino and Raven Faith Alcoseba, who set nine records in the first day alone. Aquino erased two 18-year-old records of Mathew Vega, eclipsing the 2:43.52 mark with his 2:37.58 in the 200 IM and erasing the 2:27.50 record in the 200m freestyle with his 2:25.46.

He was most impressive in the 400meter free style as his new mark of 5:09.20 is almost 10 seconds faster than the 2010 record of 5:18.67.

Aside from erasing Lynette Ang’s 18-year-old record, Alcoseba made the biggest splash in the 400m freestyle, when she shaved almost 15 seconds of the old mark after finishing her event in 5:04.73.

Fifteen seconds!

Records are usually eclipsed by milliseconds, or by a couple of seconds if you’re really gifted. But 15 seconds!? How good can Alcoseba be years from now?

Those record-setting feats are impressive, but what puts them in a different light altogether is when their coach Roland Abellana Remolino revealed that the two train in a 22-meter pool, less than half of the 50-meter Olympic pool.

These two might just be the future of Cebu swimming. Unless, of course, coaches like Remolino have a few more gems hidden, ready to make their mark.

The two weren’t the only surprises in the first day of competition of the Milo Little Olympics as the Cebu Institute of Technology-University track team shows that there are potential athletes everywhere who just need the right push.

CIT-U’s Egas Enrique Aliviado and Vince Michl Montecillo had a 1-2 finish in the shot put boys division, while Russel Cristy Faunillan and Stephanie Apura also had a one-two finish in the girls division.

There’s nothing really amazing about that, right? Schools log one-two finishes regularly in athletic events.

But what is amazing is that their coach, Jun Villaver, said the two were only discovered during the school’s physical fitness test in June and they started training only two weeks before the games.

That’s the athletic equivalent of, say, discovering a pure shooter in a PE class. And it is stories like this that boosts my belief that universities like CIT-U, USC and other big schools have all the rough-gems in their student population. (Or, in Cebu City’s case, there are rough gems in the barangays.)

All that is needed is to find them and mold them.

From nothing to gold medalists in two weeks? That’s something very special.

HE SAID IT. “That wasn’t a typo error for USC. That’s how strong they are. All their games have gone 100 plus.”

That’s what the Milo Little Olympics basketball tournament director said when I asked him if he somehow made a mistake when he sent me the scoreline of USC’s 120-point win over CEC.

(mikelimpag@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 04, 2014.

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