10-year Palaro veteran gymnast Orella eyes gold in SEAG debut

Alexx Esponga
10-year Palaro veteran gymnast Orella eyes gold in SEAG debut
After Arielle Orella was given up for adoption at birth, the most bemedalled Palaro gymnast has a new bucket list item: a SEA Games medal

MANILA, Philippines – At the far end of the carpet, a gymnast was in the middle of her warm up before an intensive practice session. Her eyes were kept closed as she went through her drills, focused on the coach’s instructions.

In the back of her mind, she is still in awe. Arielle Nichole Orella remembered the long ladder she had to climb before landing a spot to represent the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games.

Palaro’s most bemedalled gymnast has conquered her past, having not known her biological parents after being given up for adoption at birth. Now she’s ready to show her talents to the rest of the region.

Finally, after 10 years, she made it.

One of Palaro’s finest

The first time Orella participated in the Palarong Pambansa, she already dreamt of leaving a mark as a gymnast. As a first grader and a rookie, nobody really expected Oriela to win.

But she did.

The pint-sized Orella proved size and age were no obstacle as she placed ahead of many gymnasts, including some who were older and more experienced than herself, to hang a bronze medal around her neck in her Palaro debut.

She showed her finish was more than just beginner’s luck year after another. For a decade, Orella was able to end the biggest multi-sporting event in the country in fashion—bagging 6 or 7 gold medals every year.

(READ: Adopted gymnast blossoms into gold medalist)

“I think I have 47 golds? I’m not sure because I’ve lost count,” said Orella shyly as if she’s too embarrassed to reveal the total number of medals she won in her Palaro journey. “It’s just all hardwork. Everything paid off.”

Orella also proved she could go against foreign competitors when she ranked 9th and 10th in a tournament in Singapore and Japan, respectively, which was represented by approximately 48 countries.

But for Orella, there is no doubt the upcoming 29th SEA Games will mark her most important tournament yet.

“This is the time to really prove myself. This is my dream and now, it’s coming true,” Orella shared.

Birthday gift

The preparation for SEAG is a little different from what Orella is used to.

“Our training her is more in-depth and intense. I have to admit, it is harder. We train twice a day, one in the morning and another in the afternoon,” Orella said.

Orella, who will be turning 19 a few days before SEAG in August, aims to bring home a medal for herself and the country.

“I want to get a medal. I prepared for this so many years. I want to treat myself a SEA Games medal for my birthday,” Orella said. – Rappler.com 

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