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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, November 30, 2019

A Negrense’s 10th SEA Games

A Negrense track and field athlete is looking forward to his 10th consecutive Southeast Asian Games in the 30th edition of the biennial competition.

At 38, Arniel Ferrera, a native of Sitio Omiles, Barangay Poblacion in Cauayan, considers himself the most senior male Filipino track and field athlete in the games this year.

“I am happy I still have the privilege to represent our country,” he told StarLife a day before the official opening of the games today.

Arniel had his first SEAG stint in 2001 during his senior year at Binalbagan Catholic College, where he earned a degree in Mathematics.

In his nine SEA Games, the hammer thrower made three SEAG records and registered eight podium finishes – four gold medals, two silvers and another two bronzes, the last won in the 2017 edition in Kuala Lumpur.

He recalled how he was ‘discovered’ by the late Irish and Columban priest, Colum O’Halpin, at an area meet in Sipalay during high school days. Fr. O’Halpin later took him in his BCC athletic fold – which led him to his career in the Air Force for 18 years now.

The three records came in the Philippine SEA Games in 2005 (60.47m), which he improved in 2007 in Thailand (60.98), a mark he again bettered in 2009 In Laos (61.62).

The three record-setting marks were preceded by his first SEAG golden win in Vietnam (2003).

The silver medals came successively after the Vietnam games – in 2011 in Indonesia and in 2013 in Singapore in 2013.

He is glad he managed to bounce back in KL in 2017 after failing to win in Singapore in 2015 for his second third-place performance since 2001.

With age catching up on him, the Air Force sergeant is aware that many younger competitors have shown better marks. “I’ll be happy with a third-place finish this time,” he said, adding that what is important now is holding on to the privilege of donning the country’s colors.

Asked whether SEAG 2019 will be his last competition, he said, “I am still looking forward to the Seniors’ World Championship in Canada next year.”

Arniel, who started masteral studies in Math at Ateneo de Manila, is happy with his present status in the national team – as a playing-coach. “It is, indeed, great pleasure to see younger athletes hone their skills and improve their performance,” he pointed out.

While admitting that he is saddens by ‘controversies’ hounding the games, he said that in his pep talk and conditioning tasks with his athletes, he reminds them to stay focused so that “we will win as one”.

Arniel reiterated his sense of satisfaction in realizing “that through my experiences and mentoring, I am able to inspire (those who will continue the athletic legacy he has established in two decades).”*AVDelCarmen

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