Palarong Pambansa 2023

Bacolodnon athlete breaks Palarong Pambansa record; credits success to parents, coach

Reymund Titong

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Bacolodnon athlete breaks Palarong Pambansa record; credits success to parents, coach

TRIUMPH. Coach Miguel Arca (left) and Bacolodnon athlete Airex Gabriel Villanueva pose after bagging two golds and breaking a Palarong Pambansa record in Marikina City

Miguel Arca/Rappler

Bacolod City athlete Airex Gabriel Villanueva offers his Palarong Pambansa 2023 success in athletics to his support team amid hurdles leading to the annual event

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Amid challenges and setbacks, a turning-Grade 12 athlete Airex Gabriel Villanueva from Romanito P. Maravilla Sr. National High School in Bacolod City hurdled difficulties and dominated the spotlight after bagging two golds and breaking a new Palarong Pambansa record.

Villanueva recorded 42.86 meters in the secondary boy’s discus throw, which breaks the previous mark of Ed Delina from Central Luzon of 42.67m in 2018.

In the Palarong Pambansa 2023 in Marikina City that concluded on Saturday, August 5, Villanueva also bagged a gold medal in the shot put athletics competition.

Villanueva told Rappler that before the competition, he faced a lot of difficulties that challenged his determination and goal of representing the country in various athletic competitions.

“We spent years for our training to boost our emotional and physical well-being, but sometimes I feel anxious because of the hefty load of responsibilities leaning on my shoulder,” he said.

“Sometimes, the notion of stopping from being an athlete is hovering in my head but I was able to get over it because I am always reminded of my ultimate dream: to represent the country internationally,” he added.

Aside from being a sports enthusiast, Villanueva is also an academically-inclined student and is an honor student studying under the Technical Vocational Livelihood (TVL) track.

Miguel Arca, who coached Airex during the national athletic competition, told Rappler the team was more than prepared but faced difficulties along the way, including finding a venue where they could train before the competition.

“When it comes to our preparation, we made sure that we were more than ready before competing noting that the team will be facing the country’s top athletes,” he said.

“As to difficulties, we suffered finding a venue during training, including the lack of rubberized oval track which is necessary during training and there are times that the provincial stadium which could aid us during training was closed,” he added.

Despite the problems, Villanueva and his team remained focused on making the entire province of Negros Occidental proud.

Arca told Rappler the team is now gearing towards an international competition and encouraged Villanueva to keep on dreaming while staying grounded.

Villanueva is the only son of Irene Grace, a mall worker in Manila, and Rey, an OFW.

Irene describes her son as an achiever, loving, friendly, God-fearing, and respectful type of individual.

“Particularly toward his relatives and us as his parents, Airex is a loving son. He is also not a stubborn kid, and has consistently been an honor student throughout the early grades and even up to the present,” she said.

“For his achievement of breaking a record during the recent Palarong Pambansa, I am one of the proudest and I thank God for giving us a son like Airex Gabriel. We are just here beside him supporting all of his dreams and aspirations in life,” she said.

Airex said he is now preparing for an international competition this year that might be held in Vietnam.

“This time, I will exhaust my full capacity to bring pride to our country, the Philippines, and I am crediting all of my achievements to my parents and coach,” he said.

Mico Villaran, another product of Romanito Maravilla Sr. National High School, also ruled the 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, and 200m run, and helped Reezy John de Asis, Kent Paul Burdan, and Earl Kieth Servano top the 4x100m relay.

Villaran bagged four golds and one silver in the secondary boys division.

Western Visayas achieved its highest overall finish in 10 years in the Palarong Pambansa 2023, following an outstanding performance in athletics. –

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