A NATIONAL athlete, a soldier and a proud Tausug/Siamal native.

That's Norton Kasim Alamara, a swimmer-turned-water poloist from Davao City, whose strong belief in Islam had built in him the character and values that led him to his success.

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He said that as a Muslim, he also observes fasting during Ramadan.

But he missed it this year as he is under rigid training for the Beach Games set in Oman in December.

"I usually observe the one-month fast when I'm not training for a tournament. But wherever I go and whatever I do, I am proud to be a Tausug/Saimal. It's who I am," he said.

Norton or Ton was born in Babak in Samal, Davao del Norte in 1978 but his family now lives in Km. 11 in Sasa.

His deceased father, Salem, was a fisherman while her mother, Norma, teaches at a public national high school in Sasa. The latter also coaches the Davao City swimming team in Davao Regional Athletic Association (Davraa) Meet and Palarong Pambansa.

Growing in a family inclined to swimming, it was expected of him to also engage in the sport.

The five-foot-eleven soldier reminisced, "It was really out of curiosity that I got into swimming when I was 12. My peak came when I became a varsity scholar at the Rizal Memorial Colleges (RMC) and competed in a handful of major tournaments."

Ton harvested a total 20 gold medals, eight silvers and five bronzes in three stagings of the Mindanao Friendship Games from 2001 to 2003 held in Tubod, Lanao del Norte, Cagayan de Oro City and Mati, Davao Oriental.

He copped two golds and one silver in the 2001 Arafura Games in Darwin City, Northern Territory, Australia. He also clinched five golds and two silvers in the National Prisaa Championships in Manila on the same year.

His elder brother, Ali, was the first one who joined the national water polo team. Ton followed suit in 2004. Ali is no longer in the team but his two other brothers, Frazier and Dexter, later became his teammates as well.

"I'm very happy and proud because there are three of us playing together for the same national team," the now Manila-based Ton said in text messages to this writer.

Ton, Frazier, and Dexter were part of the country's water polo team that salvaged a silver medal in the 25th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vientiane, Laos last year. His team also took silvers in the 1st Singapore Open Waterpolo Competition and in the 10th Asia-Pacific Water Polo Tournament in Hong Kong both held in 2009.

The team captured golds in the 2nd Australia-Country Waterpolo Championship 2007, 6th Asia-Pacific Waterpolo Tournament 2005 in Hong Kong and 5th Asia-Pacific Waterpolo Tournament 2004 also held in Hong Kong.

"My family inspired me to work hard in my chosen field. Being poor also motivated me to dream," he shared.

Ton, who serves his duty as a soldier when he's not training, considers being named as most outstanding swimmer in the past and being hailed as most defensive water polo player as his greatest achievements.