Subject for today is the sport of archery in the country, a sport in which the Philippines was very competitive before, but sadly no more.
The big question then is can archery still make a comeback?
Thanks to the more relaxed health protocols, I was able to attend the recent small, in-person 32nd wedding anniversary of my old friends Nino and Luisa Sinco at Guevarra’s in San Juan and got some answers to the question.
Nino, a ‘financial relative’ of mine because of our surnames, is no stranger to sports as he was a member of the 1977 SEA Games archery team that was and still is the most bemadelled PH Archery Team, both men and women, to this day.
He bagged a silver medal in those games, together with Olympic veteran and former Asian champion Carlos Santos, Jr., Rafael Recto, Jr. and Daniel Naranjilla, son of former national champion and Olympian Francisco Naranjilla, Jr. The women’s team was SEA Games Gold Medallists as well. After being a competitive archer, Nino worked with Michael Keon at ‘Project: Gintong Alay’ as Liaison Officer and Supervising Coach of the Philippine National Archery Team that won gold and silver at the 1981 SEA Games in Manila.
After archery, Nino shifted to marathon, triathlon and sports organizing, while with Gatorade and was the Athletic Trainer of Purefoods with Ramon Fernandez and then of the Ginebra team of Sonny Jaworski in the late 1980s to early 90s.
His wife was a member of the first Ateneo women’s team to make the UAAP Finals, while son Louie played with the Ateneo Blue Eaglets in the UAAP, the College of St. Benilde in the NCAA and teams in the PBA D-League. And to top it all, Nino finished his Masters Degree in Sports Science Studies at the United States Sports Academy.
Earlier this year, he decided to pick up his long unused bow and arrow just to shoot for fun, found out he still enjoys it and started shooting more regularly, initially at the Belarmino Sports Complex in Cubao, and presently at the new archery range in Marikina, where he, together with fellow archers like Frankie Naranjilla, founded the Olympus Archery Club, now with close to 250 members.
When the question was thrown to him on how archery can recover lost glory that we owe to the likes of Frank Naranjilla, who qualified in the 1972 Summer Olympics, Fermin Barrenechea, Joann and Jennifer Chann, and Aya Paz-Cojuangco, Nino had a quick reply in the affirmative.
But only if the current NSA of the sport embarks on a long-term program starting with kids 10 to 13 years old to feed a national training program for the more serious archers, citing that Filipinos can excel in both the recurve and compound events.
There should be a 3- to 4-year training programs for each archer to guarantee a longer stay with the sport at a competitive level, according to him, citing the case of young archer Gab Moreno, who won a gold in 2014 with his Chinese teammate at the World Youth Games. Sad to say, Moreno has long stopped shooting arrows.
The fact is, Nino and Frankie have initiated a developmental program in Marikina and more and more young archers are getting interested in the sport.
Referring to the past, he related that in the SEA Games, it was a duel between us and Indonesia for the gold medals. Now, it is between Indonesia and other countries, with the Philippines finding it difficult now to win a gold.
But as he said, archery, a sport where height and might are not factors, can still make a comeback, but a lot of hard work looms ahead for the ruling NSA, and with lesser politics, too.
With a successful program, corporate sponsorship can also come in, and I believe my friend Nino is telling the truth.