MANILA, Philippines – He may be the oldest among the current batch of Filipino Olympians, but Rene Herrera has more than enough courage to take on the world’s best long distance runners.
|Rene Herrera making his final preparations for the London Olympics.
The 33-year-old is out to prove that he still has enough fuel to propel himself toward the finish line.
“Goal ko dun ‘yung magkalagpas ako ng qualifying round,” said the Philippine Navy seaman 2nd class.
“Talagang aim ko maka-abot ng finals kasi talagang mahigpit ang labanan sa long distance running.”
Rene Gamarcha Herrera was born the island province of Guimaras in 1979.
He said he remembers representing his class section during their school intramurals.
“Third year high school, tumatakbo na po ako sa intrams ng school namin,” said Herrera.
Herrera has won himself victories and these successes prompted him to become a regular contestant in the annual Milo Marathon.
Years later, he tried competing in steeplechase events.
It was in steeplechase where he nabbed several medals in international competitions.
“Sa Southeast Asian Games noong 2003 nag-gold po ako,” narrated Herrera. “Nitong 2011 Palembang [Southeast Asian Games] nag-gold din po ako. Sa Asian Games noon 2006, bronze ang panalo ko.”
Along the way, he set reigning Philippine record of 8:49.39 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase event.
But as luck would have it, he qualified for this year’s Olympics in the 5,000 meter run.
Herrera didn’t mind the change. He even exerted more effort in his preparations.
“Sa Baguio ako nagtre-training... sabi nga ng coach ko iba na ang labanan na to, Olympics na ito. mahirap pero kinaya ko ang umaga-hapon na training,” said Herrera.
His best record in the 5,000 meter run is 14:51.40, while the standing world record is 12:37.35 by 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medalist Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia.
Herrera remains unfazed despite the odds. All he asks for is prayers from his countrymen.
“Ipanalangin nyo po kami,” he said. “Kami naman pong mga atetang Pilipino ay ibibigay ang todong lakas namin para makamit ang gintong medalya.” -- With reports from Dyan Castillejo and Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN News
ABS-CBNnews.com is coming out with a series of stories featuring the 11 Filipino Olympians starting July 17 up to the opening of the London Olympics on July 27.