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MANILA, Philippines – Filipina rhythmic gymnast Breanna Labadan holds on to the hope that years spent away from her family and home will pay off with an Olympic appearance.
The 16-year-old – who hails from Butuan City but currently trains in Hungary – has her eyes on the Paris Games after a promising showing in the Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championships that saw her qualify for the worlds.
“I really hope to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris next year,” said Labadan. “It is overwhelming since it is next year.”
“That one thing that you’ve been dreaming of for many years is already happening next year.”
Labadan on Friday, June 2, ended her all-around campaign in the Asian championships as the highest-placed Southeast Asian, finishing ninth overall in the final where the top eight all came from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, China, and Japan.
Her sixth-place standing in the qualification also assured Labadan a return trip to the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championship set in Valencia, Spain in August.
Labadan became the first rhythmic gymnast from the Philippines to qualify for the global showdown when she competed in the previous edition in Sofia, Bulgaria last year.
But it was not all roses for Labadan, who – like Japan-based Filipino artistic gymnastics star Carlos Yulo – has spent years training abroad.
Taken under the wing of Hungarian gymnast-turned-coach Dora Vass, Labadan practically lives in Budapest, saying she only returns home to the Philippines “two to three times a year.”
“I moved there when I was 11, 12 years old without my parents, without anybody,” said Labadan. “It is very hard, even up until now, since I basically grew up without my parents.”
“[B]efore, we had problems. But now that I’m older, we were able to resolve them so I’m very happy.”
Ladaban said she is glad to help give rhythmic gymnastics a spotlight.
“It feels good to achieve this kind of level. Of course, there is so much more room for improvement and there is so much more room for certain things,” she said.
“Right now, I’m happy that rhythmic gymnastics can also be recognized.” – Rappler.com