SMASHING a record in the Palarong Pambansa 2018 won't be the last one for 14-year-old Juliana Marien Villanueva as she aims to better herself every year.
“I plan on breaking more Palaro records,” she said, certain that she could even surpass the nine minutes and 45.40 seconds she registered in the secondary girls 800-meter freestyle at the President Elpidio Quirino Stadium in Bantay, Ilocos Sur last April.
The record she erased was that of Erika Kristy Lukang of Calabarzon Region in 2010 who clocked 9:48.12; a rare achievement for an athlete on her debut in the Palaro's secondary division against more seasoned tankers.
“My ultimate dream is to be able to go beyond my limits and achieve greater things.”
She did just that by registering a new time of 9:30.46 in the same event during the Davao City Athletic Association (DCAA) Meet 2018 last October.
Today, as she leads the oath amateurism when the Davao Region Athletic Association (Davraa) Meet 2019 opens at the Davao City-UP Sports Complex in Bago Oshiro, Tugbok District, she is well aware of the high expectations of people around her.
“I pray, I train hard and its' all really up to God. My training is more intense now than my Davraa preparations last year,” the Brunei 10th BIMPNT-Eaga Friendship Games double bronze winner said.
She will compete in secondary girls 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle events, 200m butterfly, 4X100 freestyle relay and 4X100 medley relay.
When asked about her target, she quickly replied that she does not plan on just winning the gold. “All that matters is that I am able to break my personal time.”
She isn't in a rush though in landing a spot in the national team and joining the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Asian Games, and the Olympics.
When she could already be enjoying varsity scholarships in prestigious universities in Metro Manila because of her sterling Palaro feat, Yana is firm about finishing High School in Davao City or until her elder sister who is also a swimmer could join her in the Big City. She is currently in eighth grade at Precious International School of Davao.
She first joined the Blue Marlins Swimming Club but became a student of veteran swimming coach Jun Rodriguez since fourth grade.
“Sometimes I make my coach angry. Many times I cried during training. But the hardships I had to go through was worth it,” she said, while still overwhelmed by her gold finish at the Palaro. “I prayed so hard to God, I trained so hard for this.”
Coach Jun said that there were several Dabawenyo swimmers who won gold medals in the past Palaro editions but Yana may just be the first one to erase a record.
“It's difficult to win a Palaro gold let alone breaking a record. Yana is still so young, she has more Palaro years ahead of her. Some other coaches from other delegations were really surprised on what she just achieved at her young age,” Coach Jun said.
She so far has five golds in the Davraa Meet 2018 in Davao City in February and multiple golds in the Batang Pinoy Mindanao Qualifying 2018 held in March in Oroquieta City.
Who knows? Yana may just pull off another surprise.