Boystown runner bags gold in 1st Milo Little Olympics Visayas
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Jessie Abelgos of the Sisters of Mary School (SMS) had Mary Joy Tabal's Southeast Asian Games gold medal on his mind when he competed in the 5,000-meter run at the 22nd Milo Little Olympics Visayas.
Inspired by Tabal, the 15-year-old Abelgos bagged the first gold medal in this year’s Milo Little Olympics Visayas, with a time of 17 minutes and 50.12 seconds.
Running is not Abelgos' first love. He used to prefer basketball but this changed when he met Tabal, Milo marathon queen and the first Filipino Olympian in the women’s marathon. Tabal also gave the Philippines its first gold medal in this year's SEA Games.
Tabal is one of his coaches, along with Tabal’s long-time coach, John Philip Dueñas. Tabal and Dueñas started a long-distance running program for free at the SMS Boystown in January. At the invitation of University of the Visayas scouting coach Van Halen Parmis, Abelgos decided that he would have more success running.
Abelgos hails from the mountain barangay of New Taligue in Abuyog, Leyte.
“Love man sad nako ang basketball but mas better ko sa athletics. Si Ate Joy man gani babae pa nakaya niya so I thought to myself kaya sad nako,” said Abelgos, adding that he was also from the mountains, like Tabal.
(I love basketball but I am better in athletics. Ate Joy did it and she is a girl so I thought to myself, I can also do it.)
“I thank God for giving me this talent; my coaches for improving my talent; the sisters for supporting me; and to all the people cheering for me,” added the teenager.
Abelgos said he was dedicating his first Milo gold medal to everybody, most especially to his school, because he believes that the school would give him a brighter future.
His mother, Nenita, had urged him to come to Cebu to study at SMS Boystown. Abelgos, the fourth of 5 siblings, was reluctant as he didn't want to be away from his family but his mother cried and told him that he would have no future if he stayed at home. He went to this city in 2015.
Back home, Abelgos only had one meal a day since his father, a farmer, didn't earn enough to feed a family of 7. His mother, stayed at home as she suffered from asthma and had not fully recovered from a fractured rib, inflicted by her husband who once kicked her when he was drunk.
Abelgos had to do many odd jobs, including making charcoal, so he could help feed the family. In the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) which struck Eastern Visayas, his older siblings went to other places to seek jobs.
Abelgos is not new to the sport. When he was 8, his teacher entered him in a running competition so he could channel his energy into something positive.
“Kiat man gyud ko sa classroom (I am naughty in the classroom),” Abelgos said, smiling.
Even if he lacked proper training, he finished second in a district meet in 2012.
This year, a sports training program was started at the SMS, a project of Parmis. Even though the Tabal and Dueñas could not visit them often, the young athletes are left with a weekly training program.
Abelgos said he had learned much from two coaches, and he had applied these lessons to competitions such as the Minglanilla Municipal Meet in July where he was tapped by coach Francis Berizo of the Cebu Provincial Sports Commission.
During the Minglanilla Municipal Meet, Abelgos bagged the gold in the 5,000m and the silver in the 3,000m.
Abelgos said he hoped to be able to match Tabal's achievements, like representing the Philippines in international tournaments.
“Tagabukid man sad ko, ganahan ko mapareha niya (I am also from the mountains, I want to become like her)," he said.
Abelgos wants to become a seaman someday. He also aspires to become a running coach to share what he has learned to other youngsters who want to excel in the sport.
Asked what advice he would give other tracksters, Abelgos said: “Never give up. Salig lang sa Diyos (just trust in God) and thank God he is with us." – Rappler.com