Bondad swims her way from therapy to glory
DUMAGUETE City, Philippines -- The swimming pool is her playground.
At just 14, Catherine Bondad has won more than 20 Palarong Pambansa gold medals, a collection of recognitions that actually exceed the output of 15 of the 17 regions' output in this year's Games.
Sure, Bondad earned it in a span of 5 years, as she started out as a Grade 4 student who was happy to win a gold medal in 2009 in Tacloban. But harvesting such amount of gold medals is definitely no easy feat.
For the incoming San Beda College - Alabang junior, 2013 is no different.
As of posting time, Bondad has raced her way to five gold medals with one more competition day to spare, once more cementing her stature as the Philippines' top young swimmer.
With the way that she has torn through swimming competitions here and there, it is hard to imagine that Catherine took up the sport just to treat her breathing problems.
"My mother told me to swim because I had breathing problems when I was young," said the reigning Most Outstanding Swimmer.
Soon enough, she became enamored with the sport and again, not long after, Catherine rose to the top of the Palaro swimming world.
"I feel so happy in swimming," she shared. "All the pain is worth it."
Does she ever lose?
Her constant success has left many wondering if she will ever lose, and if she does, how she deals with failures.
"Of course I do," she answered when asked if she has ever lost. "When I was young, I always lost to somebody else."
But Bondad never allowed these defeats to get the best of her.
"I always tell myself there is a next time," she said.
Bondad also tells about stories of getting 'bullied' by her coaches when she cannot reach a target time. And although she isn't used to getting 'bullied,' Catherine believes that getting checked is for her own good, too, saying that "it's all for her improvement."
She said that there's no secret formula to dominating the Palarong Pambansa. And aside from her passion and determination, Bondad related that the key to her success has been the energy she draws from supporters and even doubters.
"People inspire me," the swimming sensation shared. "I am very inspired by the pope who support me every day."
Negative comments do not faze her, either.
"They would often say, 'wala na yan, talo na yan,'" she said. "But at the end of the day, when I win, they are the same people who offer their congratulations."
Rio on her mind
However, Catherine doesn't intend to swim competitively forever.
"I've been here for so long," she added. "I'm just thinking of my career one heat at a time. We'll see what happens next."
Bondad dreams of becoming a doctor, but she has something planned sooner.
"I want to participate in the 2016 Olympics," the tanker said. "My dad works for the [Olympics in] Brazil and I want to be with him during that once-in-a-lifetime event."
And with the way she's been breaking records and collecting gold mints left and right, Catherine Bondad's Olympic dream may just be a possibility. - with reports from Myke Miravite/Rappler.com