DAVAO CITY - Never in his life did Nathaniel Sanchez expect that he would participate in an international sporting event such as the Southeast Asian Games as he has had no training in any sport.
That was until only two months ago, when the obstacle course race was officially included in the regional games.
Among 4 Filipino athletes in the 400-meter OCR relay are Davaoeños, Sanchez and Klymille Kim Rodriguez, who have shown supreme speed and agility against rivals from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Laos.
Sanchez said they gave their best in passing through 12 various obstacles, including over-under-through, monkey bars, and even pistol shooting, especially when the strongest competitor, Malaysia, was just within reach.
But determination and the will to win prevailed as they snatched the Gold medal in the sporting event, with the time of 1:59, while Team Malaysia got 2:01.
"Murag ang tibuok tuig nga luha, murag niagas siya. Wala tuyua, dili na nako mapugngan ang paghilak. Na-feel namo ang victory nga among naangkon is worth it gyud, based sa kasakit sa among training," he said.
(My tears fell without me knowing. I couldn't hold back tears at the finish line. We felt that our victory was worth all the hardships during our training.)
Aside from the eagerness to win, Sanchez said that obstacle race competitions in and out of the country, funded by the Philippine Sports Commission and Pilipinas Obstacle Sports Federation, have helped them prepare for the SEA Games.
Their training took almost a year after obstacles they were to perform were given ahead by games organizers.
Sanchez, who has a degree in information technology but formerly worked as a CrossFit coach for over 3 years, also did not expect that he would bring glory and pride to the Philippines at the SEA Games.
But he believes his years of playing Filipino street games as a child helped him develop his physical and athletic abilities.
"Nagpuyo ko sa bukid sa una. Siguro kung i-trace nato, unlike sa kabatan-onan karon nga naa lang sa cellphone, sa computer, dili ma-develop ang ilang creativity ug athletic activity. Katong mga tawo sa una, nga nagadula og holen, mga dampa, luksong tinik, mga laro ng lahi, dako sila og potential, kay kining workout ug competition namo ron, is duol didto."
(I used to live in a farm. If we trace it, unlike young people now who just play on their cellphones or computers, their creativity and athletic activity is not developed. People before who played marble games, rubber, luksong tinik, they have big potential, because our workout then is our competition now.)
An OCR coach for more than a year now offered his first gold medal to his family, partner and to all who supported him in his Journey.