Davao City's 2023 Philippine National Games (PNG) athletics triple gold medalist Lyka Labrica Catubig declined a varsity scholarship offer from a prestigious university in Metro Manila as she wants to remain close to her family, emphasizing her contentment and happiness with her current situation.
Catubig, a 19-year-old athletics varsity scholar at the University of Mindanao (UM), clinched the gold in the girls' PNG U20 5,000-meter walk at the PhilSports Complex in Pasig City on Thursday evening, December 21, 2023.
She clocked 28 minutes and 21.82 seconds, defeating Pasig City’s Mary Julianne Bagtas Bayola (29:01.06) and Laurize Jeante Genilza Wangkay (30:52.51), who settled for the silver and bronze, respectively.
The feat follows her golden finishes in the 3,000m walk and 5,000m run events earlier.
"Sa Davao ra ko, Ma'am, kay mas duol sa pamilya. Nindot sad ginahatag na opportunity sa eskewelahan sa akoa. Libre man ko eskwela unya maka-training sad ko, libre sad ko meals (I'll just stay in Davao, Ma'am, to be closer to the family. It's nice that the school is giving me an opportunity. I study for free, train, and get free meals)," she told SunStar Davao in a Facebook interview on Friday morning, December 22, 2023.
The Bachelor of Science in Criminology freshman said that winning three golds, being a newbie in the PNG competition, is a blessing from the Lord.
She dedicated herself to rigorous training, putting forth her best effort to represent and bring pride to the city.
Catubig added, "Wala ko mag-expect mag-medal gyud. Lipay kaayo ko (I didn't expect to win a medal. I am very happy)."
She thanked her parents for motivating and inspiring her, her coaches Ernesto Alsa and Harrish Ratag, for their patience in training her, UM president Guillermo E. Torres Jr. and the city government of Davao for their support to the athletes, UM sports staff led by David Dwight Peñano, Edelie Dagatan, UM Davao City track and field family, Ramil "Nanay" Torregosa, former coach Valerio Bulpa, and Erico T. Nograles National High School (ETNNHS)-B teachers.
She is set to arrive on Saturday, December 23, 2023, with the rest of the Davao City delegation.
Looking forward to celebrating Christmas with her family and taking a well-deserved rest, Catubig expressed her Christmas wish: "Good health and improvement as an athlete."
The youngest of four children in the family, she dreams of completing her college education, competing on the international stage, and joining the national track and field team.
Her teammate Andrea De Guia, meanwhile, salvaged the bronze medal in the women's 800m finals. MLSA