Palarong Pambansa 2023

Aklanon swimmer flashes elite potential with huge Palaro record for 1st solo gold

JR Isaga

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Aklanon swimmer flashes elite potential with huge Palaro record for 1st solo gold

GOLDEN BOY. Aklanon swimmer Jennuel de Leon answers reporters' questions after winning 2 golds in the Palarong Pambansa 2023 swimming competition at Marikina City


Prospect swimmer Jennuel Booh de Leon of Aklan turns heads and puts college suitors on notice with a stunningly quick record performance to win his first-ever Palarong Pambansa individual gold medals

MANILA, Philippines – From the time he was born, Jennuel Booh de Leon seemed like he was destined to excel in the world of swimming.

Born to two swimming trainers, JB and Jenny, in Aklan, De Leon expectedly took up the sport at 6 years old and is now 17 and plying his craft at the Northwestern Visayas College.

That may seem like a lot of pressure to live up to, but De Leon has been training more than half his life to make waves in the sport, literally and figuratively, and excel he did in the recently concluded Palarong Pambansa 2023 at Marikina City.

On his way to just his first-ever Palaro gold medal in individual competition, De Leon stunned fans and record-keepers with a 26.78-second finish in secondary boys 50m backstroke, nearly three seconds faster than the previous high of 29.18 set by Calabarzon’s John Neil Paredes in 2019.

It was only one of numerous swimming records that fell like dominoes in the annual event’s resumption from a four-year hiatus, but it was arguably one of the most lopsided and notable ones for the entire week of competition.

To top it all off, an in-form De Leon returned to the pool just minutes later and emerged with his second individual gold in 100m freestyle.

The soft-spoken standout was practically speechless after his impressive winning streak, but took the time to thank everyone who mattered most in his third and likely final Palarong Pambansa.

“I feel so proud and I feel so great because this is my first time breaking a record,” he told reporters after his gold-winning feats.

“My family and friends, and all my supporters from Kalibo, Aklan, thank you very much for motivating me and helping me to win these special events.

Like many others before him, De Leon now eyes higher goals and is hoping to test international waters sometime soon in his budding career.

For now, the pride of Kalibo is entertaining offers from undisclosed Metro Manila schools, which are now likely salivating to secure his commitment following an incredible debut in the individual competition podium.

His entire life, De Leon has dedicated his time and passion to his sport, and is now seeing the fruits of his labor pay off in big ways.

Philippine swimming definitely has a young gem in its hands to polish and show off more in the coming years. –

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