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MANILA, Philippines – Chinese sport wushu inspires a Filipino athlete. Competing in the 6th ASEAN Schools Games, 15-year-old Leslie Romero aspires to be a world champion at large.
David Lozada reports.
Leslie Romero practices her routine minutes before she competes in the Chang Quan category of wushu in the 6th ASEAN Schools Games.
She finishes fifth in the first demo. But the 15-year-old is satisfied with her performance given that it’s her first time in an international event.
A student of Ernesto Rondon high school, Leslie started wushu in 2012. She says pursuing the sport is a balancing act.
LESLIE ROMERO, WUSHU ATHLETE: Kailangan po ng sipag, tiyaga. Kailangan po marunong ka magtiis. Pagka-galing sa school, kain unte, tapos training po ng hapon hanggang 8:30pm. (Wushu athletes really need determination and patience. After going home from school, I just eat and rest a bit then I practice. It usually ends at around 8:30pm.)
Leslie is a member of the wushu national team and one of the 12 delegates of the Philippines in the games.
ASEAN Schools Games host countries are given the freedom to add one sports event during their competition year. This year, the Philippines adds wushu.
More than mastering the right moves, wushu requires discipline and commitment. This is why local sports officials say more young Filipinos should join the sport. The skills athletes learn in wushu teaches them not only to become champions in sports but also champions in life.
Samson Co of the Philippine Wushu Federation says the organization is pushing to make the sport more popular in the country.
SAMSON CO, VICE PRESIDENT, PHILIPPINE WUSHU FEDERATION: Yung wushu, nakakatulong yan sa kabataan natin para mas maging concentrated sa sports. Meron kaming mga projects na seminars para mapalaki natin itong sports na ito. (Wushu helps the youth to concentrate more on sports rather than other vices. We are planning projects and seminars that would encourage more young people to join.)
The Philippines ranked 10th overall in the 2013 World Wushu Championships. The country also bagged 2 medals in wushu during the 2014 Asian Games.
Leslie says she did not know what she wanted to pursue in life before learning wushu. Now, she has her eyes set on one goal.
LESLIE ROMERO, WUSHU ATHLETE: Pangarap ko po talaga maging world champion para po maipagmalaki ako ng Pilipinas at makilala na rin yung sports na wushu dito. (My dream is to become a world champion so that the Philippines will be proud of me and that more people will know about wushu.)
With the right push and determination, youth like Leslie can learn valuable life lessons through wushu. More than winning medals, the sport prepares athletes to win for bigger challenges in life. David Lozada, Rappler Marikina.