Track-champion mom Eloisa Luzon keen to regain SEA Games form
LOVE and athletics in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Believe it or not, this came true for lovestruck national track-and-field teammates Eloisa Luzon and Francis Medina, who got wed in October 2020 as the virus raged throughout the world, celebrating their union with the birth early last year of their son, Theo.
“Naging boyfriend and girlfriend po kami in 2019 before the Southeast Asian Games,” Luzon-Medina said after she swept the women’s 100 and 200-meter sprints at the end of the Milo-Patafa Performance and Time Trials at Imus Sports Complex in Cavite on February 27.
Despite the strong headwinds that swept through the venue, the former Palarong Pambansa standout won the century dash in 12.66 seconds and hardly took a breather when she was back on the track barely an hour later in completing the sprint double in topping the 200-meter run in 25.68 seconds.
“Talagang pinaghirapan ko talaga ito at nagsipag sa training kasi matagal kaming walang training dahil sa pandemic (I really worked hard for this that’s why I stepped up on my training since we had a long layoff due to the pandemic),” Luzon-Medina noted after her sterling outing in the meet organized by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association, the sport’s national governing body, and supported by the Philippine Sports Commission.
Born in Kibawe town, Bukidnon, birthplace of ring icon and presidential hopeful Manny Pacquiao, she said the romance blossomed in the lead-up to the 2019 SEA Games until they decided they wanted to take their relationship to the next level amid the virus crisis.
Medina’s forte is the 400-meter hurdles, where he has been overshadowed by celebrated US-based Eric Shawn Cray, although he went home with a bronze medal in the 4×100-meter men’s relay at the 30th SEA Games trackfest 3 years ago at the New Clark City Athletic Stadium in Capas town, Tarlac.
His wife fared better, garnering a gold medal as a member of the victorious mixed 4×100-meter relay squad that also had Cray, Tokyo Olympian Kristina Knott and Anfernee Lopena as members.
“What I liked about Francis was not only his dedication and discipline as an athlete but also his patience in dealing with me,” said Luzon-Medina of their relationship.
While savoring her triumph, the sprinter disclosed that she nearly gave up her athletic career after reporting to the national team training camp in Baguio City last October overweight and out of shape.
“Gusto ko nang mag-give up at that time kasi napakalayo ko sa mga teammates ko. (I wanted to give up at that time because my form was very far from my teammates). It was coach Julius Nierras who worked me out at 400 meters for my first meet (at the Ayala Philippine Athletics Championships) in Baguio last December so I am very grateful to him,” she said.
At the time of her pregnancy, the 5-foot-2 athlete weighed 149 pounds, or 39 pounds over her normal competitive weight.
“I really had to discipline myself and diet if I wanted something good for myself because I have set goals for my athletic career,” recalled Medina, who has gone down back to a trim 114 pounds.
While having a baby and being a young mother, she said she remained focused on what she could still accomplish as an athlete and was glad that her athlete-husband continued to be supportive, pointing to the telltale signs of her delivery.
“I call these my treasure marks,” said Medina of the barely visible stretch marks on her stomach.
Now in the care of her parents back in Bukidnon, the baby, Medina said, was added motivation to perform well and qualify for the national team with an eye on running and winning a medal in the showcase century dash at the 31st Vietnam SEA Games in May.
“Pinu-push ko po talaga to qualify sa 100 meters and win a medal kaya gusto mag-train for the event (I am pushing to qualify for the 100 meters and win a medal so I am training hard for this event,” said the athlete.
Her winning time is 1 second off the bronze-medal qualifying standard of 11.66 seconds set by Singaporean ace Veronica Shanti Pereira at the 30th SEA Games 3 years ago.
But she herself was keenly aware that she and her husband’s athletic careers have a short life span so the couple was also preparing for that eventuality.
“I am applying to take my licensure exam as a teacher, while Francis is also applying to take his board,” said the UST Sports Management graduate while his spouse has a civil engineering degree from the University of Perpetual Help.
In other results, Lopena expectedly ruled the men’s 100m run in 11.13 seconds, but was relegated to runner-up honors by teammate Clinton Bautista, the 2019 SEA Games men’s 110-meter hurdles champion, who surged in the last 10 meters in 21.74 meters to the latter’s 22.11 seconds.
Mariano Masano, who won a silver medal in the men’s 1,500-meter event In the SEA Games, also prevailed in his forte in 4:02.52 while Macrose Dichoso topped the distaff side in 5:38.09.
Ronnie Malipay clinched the men’s triple jump with a leap of 14.86 meters, nipping 2019 SEA Games silver medalist Mark Harry Diones (14.72) while John Lee Villaruel was third (14.19).