MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines nearly lost its lone 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) silver medal with the closure of Boracay as native kiteboarder Christian Tio was not allowed to train in the island.
"I wasn’t allowed to train there so when I was in Boracay, I had nothing to do," said Tio during the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Youth Olympic Games press conference.
The 6-month rehabilitation of the island banned watersports even to residents, forcing Tio and his team to come up with plans to train elsewhere in preparation for the Youth Olympics in October 2018.
"At first we didn’t think that they won’t allow kiteboarding. They announced it like when they closed so we [had to make] plans that time," added the lone Filipino YOG medalist.
The Philippine Kiteboarding Association still managed to send its star to Norway and Dominican Republic after his planned training and competition in Italy. When he was in the Philippines, Tio was stationed in Laguna as he trained in Lake Caliraya for a month.
Despite the last-minute arrangements, Tio still managed to bag a silver in the YOG's inaugural kiteboarding event in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
"Kailangan siya ilabas para makita yung ibang ka-competition niya and makita yung skills niya sa lahat ng kalaban niya," said Tio's mother Liezl Mohn.
(We had to bring him out because he had to see his other competitors and so that he could see the skills of his opponents.)
The 17-year-old qualified for the junior Olympics last March in the Kitesurfing Youth Olympic Qualifiers Asia at Pranburi, Thailand.
Two weeks later, President Rodrigo Duterte "verbally" ordered the island's closure during a Cabinet meeting in April 4, saying Boracay has become a "cesspool".
Last April 26, the world-famous destination was officially closed to undergo rehabilitation even without a masterplan from Duterte.
Mohn owned a steakhouse in Boracay which was forced to shut down for six months, giving the family an opportunity to travel with Tio while he prepared for the YOG. (READ: Businesses brace for Boracay closure)
"For us, okay naman yung nangyayari na naayos ‘yung island ngayon, so we’re all excited na makauwi kami this week," added Mohn.
(For us, we're okay that the island is getting rehabilitated, so we're all excited to go home this week.)
The kiteboarding star will receive P2.5 million from PSC as incentive which he plans on saving. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.