GHIA Bucag, the shy 12-year-old from Balamban, made headlines last year when she became the 2009 Palarong Pambansa’s first gold medalist. She hopes to go back to the national arena as she and more than a thousand other athletes start their journey today at the start of the hostilities of the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (Cviraa) in Danao City.

Bucag is one of the thousands hoping to represent the region in the Palarong Pambansa this April in Tarlac.

Bucag won the first gold medal in javelin throw after posting 35 meters. “I still hope that I can win a gold,” said Bucag, who lit the torch in yesterday’s opening at the Ramon Durano Memorial Sports Complex.

She is looking at another successful Cviraa bid after an impressive finish in the provincial meet, where she threw 36m.

“I have been improving. During training, I was able to throw 41-meters,” said Bucag, who will also compete in shot put and discus throw.

Meanwhile, newly-appointed Department of Education School Sports Program Assistant Secretary Jun Abelita said he will be pushing for the strengthening of the school sports program.

“This will be my challenge. We want to give the kids the proper basic fundamentals and raise the level of competitiveness, which they can use when they would want to pursue being an athlete. We should start them young and what better way to do that but to start in schools,” said Abelita.

He added that this program is also to help out the projects of agencies like the Philippine Sports Commission in the future.

“The PSC is more focused on the elite athletes. Wala silang buffer. That is why we are training the kids now,” said Abelita.

Meanwhile, DepEd Regional Director Recaredo Borgonia has a modest goal in the upcoming Palarong Pambansa.

“We want to maintain at least our fourth place finish. The other option will be to improve it,” said Borgonia. Region 7 has been fourth placers in the national games for the past three stagings.

Borgonia added that to prepare for the Palaro, the kids will immediately start training after the Cviraa.

“The training will depend on how much budget is left from the hosting of the Cviraa this year,” said Borgonia.