Aside from being champions, these Filipino sports veterans are also mentors to rookie athletes and SEA Games first-timers
Photos courtesy of Inquirer Sports | Art by Tricia Guevara
Retired basketball player Rudy Tomjanovic Jr. once said that you should never underestimate the heart of a champion—a champion being someone who’s well aware of what it’s like to win on the big stage and against equally skilled competitors.
Some examples that come to mind are the experienced Filipino athletes who will be leading the country in the upcoming SEA Games. But just as exciting to watch are the rookies who will be making their debut on home soil. So to give our young athletes (or anyone who’s in a similar situation) that extra bit of inspiration, we asked some of the best Filipino athletes some valuable advice.
Hidilyn Diaz, 2020 Olympic gold medalist
“Do your best for our country and enjoy the moment kasi our family will be there to cheer us. Be proud to be Filipino. Train hard and smart.”
Nikko Huelgas, two-time SEA Games gold medalist
“The pressure, anxiety, and maybe sleepless nights leading up to your games may be inevitable. It’s [all] normal and it’s good. It means you put so much importance in this big event that can shape your life. Learn it very well and accept it so you will handle it better. Cut down on your coffee intake leading up to your games since the anxiety has already increased naturally from the pressure. Try not to do anything unusual in your pre-games ritual. The body and the mind may be prepared but the spirit will probably be the main difference separating a gold medal from a silver. So strengthen your inner faith through prayers and daily reflection. And let the results come on the day itself.”
Kim Mangrobang, three-time SEA Games gold medalist in triathlon
“I’m sure that anybody who reaches the level to compete in the SEA Games already knows that they have to give everything they have. All the Filipino athletes who have the opportunity to represent the Philippines in the upcoming SEA Games, whether it is their first time or not, have the capability of bringing home the gold.”
James de los Santos, 2017 SEA Games bronze medalist
“As long as you’ve trained hard, don’t put pressure on yourself. It’s a great feeling to represent your country. Live that moment; be proud of it. It’s the time to show what you’re made of.”
Jenny Guerrero, 2000 Olympian and 2001 SEA Games silver and bronze medalist in breaststroke
“Perform wholeheartedly for your country. Make this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of playing in front of your home crowd worthwhile so don’t hold back and give your all.”