MANILA, Philippines – Archery couple Paul and Rachelle Anne dela Cruz struck the lone gold medal for Team Philippines at the previous Southeast Asian Games (SEAG).
Locked down by the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple was fortunate that they were cooped up at the most opportune environment, allowing both archers to do the spadework for their title defense in Hanoi, Vietnam.
“What happened was we were trapped inside the archery range at the height of the pandemic. With nowhere else to go, we used our time to train and become better, ” said Rachelle, who suited up for the country at the 2012 London Olympics.
Both Rachelle and Paul, a 2014 Asian Games bronze medalist, put the nation in the gold-medal tally of the 2019 SEA Games held here by winning the mixed team compound event.
The lack of actual competition denied the two of a chance to gauge themselves against formidable opposition, but managed to wax philosophical about their situation.
“Archery is a sport where your biggest opponent is yourself,” said Paul. “You will be less nervous if you don’t expect too much. But you have to put in the effort in training if you want to succeed. ”
Archery in the coming Vietnam SEA Games on May 12 to May 25 will dangle 10 gold medals with Paul and Rachelle set to compete in the individual and team compound events before joining forces again in the mixed event.
While other athletes had no recourse but to break off from training at the height of the global health crisis last year, the couple spent most of the time polishing their craft at the FR Sevilla archery range in Quezon City, where health restrictions locked them.
No wonder Paul and Rachelle performed extremely well in the series of qualifying meets of World Archery Philippines for the SEA Games.
The final was held over two weeks ago in Marikina City after a nationwide series of regional competitions held in Davao, Cebu, Baguio, Dumaguete and the National Capital Region.
Joining Paul in the men’s compound team are Johann Olano and Flor Matan while Rachelle will team up with veteran Jennifer Chan and Andrea Robles in the women’s compound squad.
Jason Feliciano, Jonathan Reaport and Girvin Garcia will be entered in the men’s Olympic recurve while sisters Gabrielle and Pia Bidaure are enlisted in the women’s Olympic recurve with Phoebe Amistoso.
“We still have two months to train. We just have to give our best, ” said Rachelle.
“I see the SEA Games as a stepping stone to the Asian Games [in Hangzhou, China,] later this year, ” added Paul.
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