FOUR 30th Southeast Asian Games gold medalists in athletics last Saturday voiced anxiety and urgency in resuming actual intensive training after being laid off for nearly six months since the virtual lockdown of the entire country in mid-March to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Marathoner Cristine Hallasgo, decathlete Aries Toledo, heptathlete Sarah Dequinan and javelin thrower Melvin Calano, who all live in separate locations, lamented they were not getting the proper nutrition they were accustomed to as national athletes since the pandemic struck.
Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Philip Ella Juico said they hope to address both issues when PATAFA sets up a one-month national team training camp at the La Salle campus in Canlubang, Laguna in November before the scheduled National Open trackfest in December.
The institution boasts of a track oval that meets standards of World Athletics, the governing body for track and field, and dorms where some 21 national athletes and 20 coaches will be in a “bubble” for a month, according to Juico.
“We hope to make up for this by gathering them all together in November in Canlubang,” he said in the virtual press conference organized by the athletics body, adding the National Open would either be held at the New Clark City Athletic Stadium in Capas, Tarlac or at the Vermosa Sports Complex in Imus, Cavite.
A prominent La Salle alumni, Juico said that strict health protocols set by the Philippine Sports Commission, Department of Health and Inter-Agency Task Force will be enforced during the training stint.
“Because I am a senior citizen, even I won’t be allowed to go there,” said Juico, 72, disclosing the local track body would be mainly subsidizing the camp with the help of private sponsors, although he is hoping the Philippine Sports Commission would chip in.
“Dapat sana makapag-umpisa na kami baka kasi mahirap makabalik pag matagal walang ensayo,” said Toledo, who is based in Cuyapo, Nueve Ecija, and is bidding for a third straight gold medal in the 31st Vietnam SEA Games in Hanoi in November next year.