DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines— From her humble beginnings as a table tennis and basketball player, Jennifer Chan’s story would have been entirely different today if not for her Physical Education (PE) teacher back in college.
Archery, where she now stands as one of the country’s demigods, was farthest from her mind.
Chan’s former mentor, legendary archery coach Dionisio “Bob” Flores is now 90 years old and all she can do is thank him for giving that chance to play archery.
Makings of a champion
Chan, a resident of this seaside city, vividly recalls how she got into archery when she was studying at Siliman University, where Flores was the sport’s head coach.
“I was actually into table tennis and basketball back then,” recalled the 2000 Sydney Olympian.
“My PE teacher at Siliman, Mr. Dionisio “Bob” Flores asked me to try archery. He was also the coach of the National team. He said ‘why not try archery since unlike table tennis and basketball, you can play the sport (archery) even by yourself?’”
A young lass then, Chan took the opportunity to try archery, noting that Flores seldom approaches players to try out.
“He saw potential in me.”
“When I tried out, when I shot my first ever arrow, it was so funny, I did not hit the target bat, what I hit was the box stab,” Chan quipped in jest.
“I got embarrassed and was so shy of myself but coach Flores never laughed at me,” she added. “He even said I should practice more and there’s always room for improvement.”
Chan trained for eight months and vied for the National open, where she won and earned the right to be a member of the Philippine team — a prelude to a stellar career that would see her be a SEA Games record-holder and one-time Olympics participant.
Home of archers
For someone like Chan, who has seen it all in Dumaguete, archery is the city’s most revered sport.
“I can say that we are really dedicated when it comes to archery,” she stressed. “We have our own range in Siliman that’s why we can really concentrate on big tournaments.”
Asked how archers from Dumaguete become so successful in their fields, the Bachelor in General Science graduate said that discipline and humility are the keys.
Chan also served noticed of Karl Kristian Mari, a former archery champion in the 2012 Palaro who also hails from Dumaguete. (Mari pulled out of the competition after what his camp believes as an unfair change in rules. – Ed.)
“He has a bright future,” she said. “Provided he does not change his attitude and continue honing his skills.”
Defying Father Time
Chan coached Mark Javier, also a Dumaguete product who competed in the Asian Games and the 2008 Olympics, proving that aside from playing well herself, she is able to pass on that skill to others.
However, not too long after she began mentoring others, Chan returned to where she believes her heart truly belongs: playing archery.
And now at 48 years old, Chan is the living proof that playing archery knows no time.
“If you really have the desire to be a champion, you will not think about time,” she shared. “You just keep on shooting arrows.”
Although she is not a Palarong Pambansa product, Chan, who serves as a technical official in this year’s archery competitions, has high praises for the country’s biggest sporting event.
“This is the grassroots program of our country where we develop the future of our athletes,” Chan explained. “This is big (Palaro) for the future of our athletes.”
The 3ds of becoming a champion
Asked what aspiring Palaro archers or even athletes need to have become champions, not only in sports but in life as well, Chan summed it up by pointing out to the 3ds of winning— discipline, dedication and determination.
“As athletes, you should look at positive things, win or lose.” – Rappler.com
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