THE Filipino archer who won the gold medal in the mixed team event of the second Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing, China, is hoping to provide the spark the sport needs back home.
Luis Gabriel Moreno, a 16-year-old student of La Salle Greenhills, teamed up with China’s Li Jiaman at the Fangshan Archery Field to nail the gold.
They defeated Eric Peters of Canada and Mirjam Tuokkola of Finland in the semis, and Muhammad Zarif Zolkepeli of Malaysia and Cynthia Freywald of German in the finals.
Moreno drew loud cheers from the Chinese crowd when he shot a 9 with his final arrow in the archery competitions at Fangshan.
When he spoke to reporters after the awarding ceremony, Moreno said he hoped that his victory will provide the inspiration to the Filipino athletes.
“I hope I can become a symbol of inspiration to all Filipino athletes and I hope a lot of Filipino athletes will qualify next year for the Rio Olympics,” he said.
Moreno’s father, Fred Moreno, is the newly elected president of the Philippine Archers National Network and Alliance Inc., the country’s governing body in the sport.
The elder Moreno was at the stands to cheer the young Filipino archer on during the final-day competitions.
“It [archery] can also be interesting. You don’t have to be tall or short, you don’t have to have long arms or short limbs. As long as you have the will and determination you can do anything,” said the Filipino gold medalist.
It’s the first gold medal for the Philippines in the YOG.
Philippine Chef de Mission Jonne Go said they they knew that Moreno and the other archer, Bianca Roxas-Chua Gotuaco, had the skills.
“But we really did not expect to win the gold. That makes the victory even sweeter. We now have a gold medal in the Youth Olympics,” Go said.
Gotuaco, winner of the gold medal in a recent meet in Ohio, couldn’t advance to the round of 16 of the women’s individual.
Members of the small Philippine contingent here, including triathlete Vicky Deldio, swimmer Roxanne Yu, shooter Celdon Arellano, track bet Zion Rose Nelson and gymnast Ava Lorein Verdeflor, will fly home on August 29.
“We are very proud of our athletes here,” Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Richie Garcia said.
Philippine Olympic Committee President Jose Cojuangco missed the archery finals because of a scheduled fight back home but was very happy when he spoke to the chef de mission on the phone.
“We had high hopes on archery. But overall, all our athletes in this YOG made our country proud,” Cojuangco said.