Athletics: Unlikely spot on relay team leads to unlikely finish for Eloisa Luzon at SEA Games

Martin Javier

Posted at Jul 21 2020 11:21 PM

The Philippine women's team composed of the Richardson sisters Kayla and Kyla (extreme left and right), Zion Rose Nelson (second from left), and Eloisa Luzon take home the bronze in the 4x100-meter relay at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur. PSC/POC pool/file

It was a fantastic finish for the Philippine track and field team as it dominated the events in the Southeast Asian Games last December. 

A total of 27 medals, including 11 gold, 8 silver, and 9 bronze medals were secured by the national athletics team in front of a bustling home crowd. It was undoubtedly one of the best finishes by the group in the regional event. 

But even with a plethora of spectacular moments in the competition, there’s one highlight and moment of triumph that really stuck out. Using a “risky” gameplan, the Philippines bagged the 4x100 mixed relay gold medal in come-from-behind fashion. 

In a recent podcast, Filipina sprinter Eloisa Luzon recalled her experience being chosen to start that race.

“Nu’ng sa 4x100, wala ako masyadong iniisip kasi laging sinasabi ng teammates ko sa akin na as long as mapasa mo ’yung baton OK na sa amin ’yun,” said Luzon, whose teammates gave her full trust despite her inexperience being the lead runner. 

“Kinakabahan ako nu’n kasi hindi pa ako ever nag-start. Lagi akong last runner sa relay, tapos mahirap. Hindi kasi ako marunong magpasa ng baton kaya nahirapan talaga ako mag-adjust nun.”

Adding to her difficulty was the challenge of going up against an all-male cast at the beginning of the race. 

“ ’Yung mga kalaban ko kasi noon, mga lalaki kaya sinabi sa akin ng mga teammate ko na, ‘As long as mapasa mo ‘yung baton, kami na ang bahala. Alam naman namin na gagawin mo ’yung best mo’.” 

And that she did. Despite falling behind early against her male opponents, Luzon was pass the baton in time to the next runner, Anfernee Lopena, who desperately tried to close the gap that looked insurmountable at that time. 

Things started to pick up when the Philippines’ fastest female runner, Kristina Knott, tightened the distance. She dashed and set up Eric Cray for a historic finish. 

Like a bullet coming out of a blazing gun, Cray quickly covered the distance from second to first and gave himself enough time to secure clearance for a first-place finish. The peculiar strategy paid off for the Philippines. 

Getting the gold was a crowning achievement in Luzon’s SEA Games resumé; she also won a bronze in the 4x400 women’s relay later in the competition. It was a product of hard work and dedication after months of juggling multiple races.

The University of Santo Tomas product revealed that she had to go through a mixed training schedule to prepare for her events.

Luzon recalled: “Nu’ng SEA Games 2019 dalawa ’yung nilaro ko -- ’yung 4x100 na relay na mixed, ’yung isa (4x400) na regular, na babae lang. Nahirapan ako ’yung sa training lang kasi itong days na ’to -- Monday, Tuesday -- sa 400 ’yung training ko tapos Wednesday at Saturday sa 100; Thursday, Friday sa 400. Apat na araw ako sa 400 tapos dalawang araw ako sa 100 kaya du’n lang ako nahirapan. Du’n sa pag-adjust lang, pero nu’ng nakasabay naman ako. Maganda ’yung naging resulta kasi nade-develop hindi lang ’yung endurance ko sa 400, nade-develop din ’yung speed ko kasi kasabay ko si KK (Kristina Knott).”

The 24-year-old has been staying in Romblon since quarantine started. It hasn’t been easy, but she continues to find ways to train and still get in shape. 

“May pier kasi dito, malaki ’yung space kaya du’n ako nagte-training. ’Yung training ko naman just to stay in shape. Together with my coach, nagko-communicate kami. Sinasabi ko sa kanya ginagawa ko na training. Nu’ng nakaraang months pa, may binigay kasi mga coaches sa amin na training program,” she explained.

Although it could take a while before everything goes back to normal, Luzon is optimistic that she can go back to her regular routine soon. 

“Actually sobrang excited na ako makabalik sa track kasi sobrang tagal ko nang hindi nagagamit ‘yung spikes ko. Sobrang excited na’ko,” she said.

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