vol 15 / no 1 / January 2006 / issn 0118-3931

Untitled Document

The Magnificent Seven

UE's SEA Games 2005 Gold Medalist

Victory is almost always sweet. But the sweetness of the collective triumph of the UE students, graduates and/or coaches in the 23rd Southeast Asian Games held late last year is going to be hard to top. Consider: The UE contingent’s contribution—a total of 21 medals: eight gold, five silver and eight bronze medals—to the country’s overall horde helped the Philippines, the latest SEA Games’ host country, clinch the overall championship for the very first time. • As the University’s further effort to congratulate them, the following pages focus on the gold medalists among the UE athletes in the recent SEA Games. With every piece, written by ANGELO M. Vergel De Dios, we briefly get to know each outstanding player a little better—many, we learn, were plucked from the provinces, with no prior experience in big-city living—and ultimately realize that winning is never achieved without struggle and fortitude - that them shiny medals and cheers of a grateful nation are the fruits of much blood, sweat and tears.

Roel Ramirez World-Class Act

His recent stash of gold medals at the 2005 SEA Games is the icing in the gymnastics career of Roel Ramirez (shown here up in the air during the floor exercises event at the Games). He has proven his mettle in various competitions: He won a gold medal and two bronze medals at the 2003 SEA Games in Vietnam, a silver medal at the 2004 American Cup in the United States and silver and bronze medals at the 2002 Pacific Alliance Games in Canada. He also won a silver medal at the Artistic Gymnastic World Cup in February 2005 in New York—the first Filipino to win a medal at that international tournament. On November 27, the recent SEA Games’ opening day, Roel

was featured in the Sunday Inquirer Magazine. The feature, a full-page photo essay with brief text by writer Ryan Lim, showed a typical day in Roel’s life, showing his balancing act of rigorous training, academic growth (as a BS Education junior in UE) and home life. The article heralded Roel as “a promising medal prospect”—a prophetic accolade he definitely lived up to.

Since age 9, Roel has been tumbling on the mat and vaulting horses at the UE Elementary Laboratory School. He eventually joined the RP training pool in 1997.
His general workout regimen spans six days a week and would start at 6 a.m. He would run along the oval of the Rizal Memorial Stadium before doing his warm-ups, followed by the actual practice and training also within the Memorial. This would actually take almost all morning, with the rest of the day reserved for his studies.

Passion for gymnastics and dedication to his studies—Roel has ensured that the former won’t be a hindrance in pursuing the latter and vice-versa. It has been his rallying call to become a great athlete while being a hardworking student, and as his latest SEAG feats attest, things can only get better. Last December, in what was his fourth SEA Games outing, Roel won big time: two gold medals and one silver and one bronze medal. It was his best performance yet and the whole country—heck, the whole Southeast Asia—was his audience.

Furthermore, he partly epitomizes that the family that competes together stays together. Gymnastics, it appears, is a family venture for the Ramirezes, as four of his eight brothers are also part of the national gymnastics team. His brothers Ronnie and Al were also part of the Philippine gymnastics team at the last SEA Games; the three Ramirez brothers, along with UE alumnus Brydon Sy, won the bronze medal in the team event.

Things are definitely in full gear for Roel Ramirez. With all the awards and medals he has earned, he has become one of the country’s world-class athletes. And not even a hop, a skip and a trip can stop his momentum.

Mercy Manipol Run, Champion, Run

Mercedita Manipol discovered her passion for running when she was a little girl in the town of Carmen, Romblon. As a youngster, she would play games that involved running, such as pusa’t daga. All her playing evolved into a passion when she reached high school at the Romblon Colleges of Fishery and Forestry in Cabulutan, Romblon. She tried out for both the track-and-field and softball teams and was accepted in both.

However, she eventually dropped out of the softball team, realizing that team sports were not exactly for her.

As a high school student, Mercy represented her province in the Palarong Pambansa between 1994 and 1998, focusing on events such as the 500-meter, 1500-meter and 3000-meter runs.

It was only when she entered college here at the University that Mercy began focusing on the 5,000m and 10,000m events. It was Assistant PE Director Rolando Perez who trained her for the said events in preparation for the UAAP.

However, it was not all sweet for Mercy, who in 2002 suffered an injury big enough to have made her think of quitting the sport. She eventually soldiered on, her coaches motivating and telling her that injuries are a part of the experience. In the end, she triumphed, even managing to bag the UAAP Most Valuable Player Award of that season.

Even after earning her Bachelor’s degree in Education, major in Physical Education, from the University in April 2003, Mercy continued to run and dominate the tracks here and abroad. In the 22nd SEA Games in Vietnam, she won the bronze medal in the 10,000m. Last 2004, she was hailed Queen of the Road at the Adidas King of the Road competition held in South Korea. She has also won the gold countless times in the National Open.

To prepare for the recent SEA Games, she trained with her coaches Odeon Artiaga and Jorge Noel Posadas at Teachers’ Camp in Baguio City. Her training started almost immediately after the 2003 SEA Games.

Mercy never expected to win the gold and silver medals that she brought home from the 10,000m and 5,000m runs, respectively. She says she would have been content to attain the bronze once more, believing that the other athletes were more competitive this year. Despite this, she motivated herself to do her best and not be complacent with her performance.

This in turn led to the 10,000m gold medal, over Myanmar and Vietnam, which finished second and third, respectively, and the 5,000m silver, with Indonesia taking both the gold and bronze medals.

Mercy could not be any happier. She feels proud to have given honor to her country, school, province and barangay. She is grateful for those who have been there for her, especially the University which, she underscores, has supported her morally and financially. She hopes that the support would still be with her as she fulfills her dream to be part of the upcoming Asian Games.