ILOCOS SUR, Philippines – Not only is he following his father's footsteps, a Palarong Pambansa medalist draws inspiration from his two-time Olympian father.
Edward Josh Buenavista, son of Filipino long-distance runner Eduardo Buenavista, secured a gold medal in the 3,000-meter steeplechase secondary level in Palarong Pambansa 2018 here on Wednesday, April 18.
After previously qualifying thrice, the 16-year-old captured his first gold medal in the prestigious games; but the young athlete has already amassed four gold medals in the Private Schools Athletic Association of the Philippines (PRISAA) meet, not to mention his other wins in international events in Asia and Russia.
Amid all his victories in his early sports career, the Baguio native said he takes inspiration from his father, Eduardo, who he said has shown support for him since day one.
"Since palagi niya po akong sinasama, bata pa lang po ako, siya po talaga ang dahilan kung bakit ako tumatakbo ngayon eh. Na-inspire po talaga ako sa kanya," Buenavista said.
(When I was young, he always brings me along, so he's really the reason why I'm running today. He inspired me.)
The young athlete described himself as "laking oval," saying that he was already starting to run at the age of one.
"Si papa ko since athlete siya dati, naeexpose na po ako [sa larong ito], napapanood ko na po kung papaano yung trainings [niya]. Then siguro nung right time na po, tinuro niya na po sa akin then na-adopt ko na po lahat ng trainings niya, until now inaadopt ko pa rin po," he said.
(Since my papa was an athlete, I got exposed, I watched his trainings. Then when it was the right time, he taught me, then I adopted all his trainings. Until now I'm adopting it.)
Over time, the young boy's passion for the sport grew. Buenavista did not even realize that he was already following his father's footsteps as a sports standout.
"Hindi naman po ako pinilit. Parang naging passion ko na rin po kasi ewan ko po kung nasa nature ko na or it runs with the family. Naituloy ko na po na hindi kung alam kung bakit," Buenavista said.
(I wasn't forced. It turned into my passion, I don't know if it's just my nature or it runs in the family. I just continued it, I'm not sure why.)
The young Cordilleran did not expect his gold medal win. During his game, Buenavista actually started last in the the track.
"Nung nag start po ako is ako po yung nasa huli eh. Tapos yung sinusunod ko po is yung sarili kong pacing. May sarili po akong technique na sinusunod. Kapag nasundan ko ito is makukuha ko na yung target ko na time. So since ang lalakas po ng mga pace nila sa harap, nauna sila [pero] hinayaan ko lang po sila at nagkita na lang kami sa last, sa finishing kick po,"he said.
(When I started, I was last. I just followed my own pacing, I have my own technique that I follow. When I follow that, I manage to reach my target time. So since those ahead of me have a solid pace, they pull away, but I just let them be and we just see each other in the end, at the finishing kick.)
Buenavista shared that he, like other young athletes, was very nervous and slightly intimidated by older competitors. As the game started, Buenaveista brushed all his fears and had only his A-game in mind.
"Biglang nag-wash out na po tapos yung focus ko na lang po is to concentrate, focus, and then unexpected na bigla na lang andiyan na po yung gold sa akin," Buenavista said.
"Ang iniisip ko na lang na after nitong last jump na ito, iuubos ko na lahat-lahat as in wala nang matitira para sa gold na ito," he added.
(The nervousness just washed out then I made sure to concentrate, focus, but then unexpectedly, the gold medal was just there. I wast just thinking that after the last jump, I'll give everything I have, as in nothing will be left for the gold.)
True enough, he emerged victorious and finished the course at 9:52:39, edging out in mere milliseconds Region 5's Jessy Vasquez at 9:52:64.
Buenaventura's father and mother cheered and witnessed their son's victory in the country's highest sports event.
Runs in the family
The sport may already run in their blood as Buenavista's younger brother, Eduardo Jr, is also an athlete and a delegate for Cordillera's 400 meter sprint elementary this year.
Meanwhile, Buenavista's father, Eduardo, holds the Philippine record for multiple long distance events - a feat the young runner dreams to one day break.
"Dream ko po na mabreak din ko yung record ni papa. Kahit man lang isa dahil kapag lahat siguro lalaspag ako pagtanda ko," he said.
(I dream of breaking papa's record. Even just one, because if I target all maybe I'll be too spent.)
Eduardo or "Vertek" holds the Philippine record of 13 minutes, 58 seconds in 5000 meters, and 29:02.36 minutes in 10,000 meters.
As a son of a record-holder, he feels both overwhelmed and pressured knowing that he has a tough act to follow. Yet, Buenavista said he aims to excel academically while continuing his training.
"Para sa akin, siguro studies muna dahil through running, dito ko po makikita yung mga opportunities na puwedeng ibigay sa akin, lalo po sa academics at sa school na pagpipilian ko po," he said.
(For me, studies first because though running [while in school], I get to see the opportunities before me.)
The grade 10 athlete from University of Baguio Science High School said he would like to pursue civil engineering in college. Yet, he vows to continue training.
"Hindi naman po ito yung dulo eh. Continuous training pa rin po parang stepping stone parang malayo pa po ako sa achievement ko na ma-break ang record ni papa or makakuha ng high achievement," he said.
(This is not the end. I'll still go through continuous training, it's like a stepping stone because I'm nowhere near the achievement of breaking papa's record or just getting a high achievement.)
For Buenavista, having an Olympian father as inspiration is one thing but having dedication, passion, and discipline is all it takes to become a Palaro gold medalist. - Rappler.com