Road to Vietnam, Week #11: Everything I Missed

In the scramble of my trips to and from Cebu and then to and from Germany, I missed mentioning a few significant events that happened for the Philippine sports community.

As a side note, I couldn’t watch the men’s triathlon on Thursday night because I was up in the air on the final leg of my flight back to Manila. It was streamed live on one of TV5’s nine Youtube streams. So, I thought that they would do the same for the women’s triathlon. Boy, was I wrong! I had to scramble to find an online stream and only managed to watch from the final lap of the bike leg. TV5 meanwhile on the other eight streams was showing taekwondo (on two streams!), indoor diving, some canned Olympic show, javelin, and other things I had no interest in. Nine streams, and no triathlon — the sport where we got two gold medals at the most recent SEA Games. How could they think we had no interest in triathlon even if we didn’t have any medal contenders in it?!

Anyway, Hidilyn Diaz won our country’s only medal this year, a silver in weightlifting. This makes her the first Filipino to medal since 1996, the first Filipina to earn an Olympic medal, the first to earn it in weightlifting, the first non-boxer to medal for the country since 1936, and the first to come from Mindanao.

Also of note is our very own marathoner Mary Joy Tabal, who qualified on her own initiative with the backing of her sponsors and finally received PATAFA’s blessing in the last few months leading into Rio. She didn’t have a stellar race, but she fought to finish.

I think my favorite bit of news, and the one closest to home, is Omar Paredes’s finish at the Norseman Triathlon. One of the most difficult and most iconic iron-distance triathlons in the world, the Norseman starts you off in a freezing cold swim off a barge in a fjord (glacier lake), winds through five mountain passes on the bike leg, and runs through hilly terrain on the marathon. As an additional challenge, only the first 160 finishers are allowed to climb up to the mountain finish and earn a Black Shirt.

Omar Paredes, first Filipino Norseman Triathlon finisher

Well, Omar finished 138th and was the first Filipino ever to attempt the Norseman. Here’s his Facebook Live video of the ascent to the finish. I watched it in the early hours of race morning in Cebu and was brought to tears.

You can read more about Omar’s race in this profile on AsiaTRI.

All these athletes make me feel proud to be Filipino and want to continue encouraging the growth of sport in our country, whether it’s in the professional ranks or among us recreational age groupers. Sport is a worthwhile endeavor; it inspires all who witness with a desire to do better and achieve more.

But also, don’t forget to enjoy what else life has to offer. I used to travel to races with only the race in mind, and thus wasn’t able to enjoy being in the moment and experience the places I was going. I’m thankful I’ve reversed that trend in recent trips, particularly the last one where I made every effort to grab some local cuisine.

Road to Vietnam Week 11
“boiled chicken” at Guangzhou airport is actually Hainanese chicken, haha

Road to Vietnam Week 11
dying to buy myself some macarons at Paris Charles de Gaulle…

Road to Vietnam Week 11
…but got some for free on the flight to Munich!

Road to Vietnam, Week 11
enjoying a Salzburg Stiegl brew riverside at the Munich English Gardens

Road to Vietnam, Week 11
Wiener schnitzel and an Augustiner Keller brew

Road to Vietnam, Week 11
a cappucino and a baked goodie

Road to Vietnam, Week 11
weisswurst and Bavarian sweet mustard

Road to Vietnam, Week 11
Regensburg’s own Spital dark beer

Road to Vietnam, Week 11

Bavarian meat loaf

Road to Vietnam, Week 11
the Munich airport has its own brewery!

I’m so looking forward to my relay race in Vietnam and the inevitable food tripping. Only three weeks to go <3

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