This young archer has hit every target he has come across in his 4 years of competing in international and national sports events. But this target, he said, is the most challenging yet.
Gabriel Moreno is set to battle against 31 other archers from around the globe in the Nanjing Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG). The 16-year-old says he trained hard for the event and hopes to bring honor to the Philippines.
“I want to make my country proud. I want to give the Philippines my very best,” Moreno said.
The 7-man Philippine team will compete in six sports events. Their ultimate goal, Moreno added, is to bring home a medal for the country, which has experienced a drought in Olympic events in the past decade. The last time the Philippines won an Olympic medal was in the boxing event of the 1996 Atlanta games.
Moreno’s assistant coach Marvin Cordero says the young archer has a lot of potential. His skills are matched with his perseverance. (RELATED: Inside Nanjing, 4 days before the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics)
“He balances archery with his academics. He trains every day even if he’s already tired from school. He also spends his weekends practicing,” Cordero said in Filipino.
Moreno admitted that the balancing act is not easy. Life for him is a constant adjustment.
“I started archery when I was 6 years old. But it gets harder as I progress in school. Now, I’m adjusting again since classes just started,” he said.
At the age of 12, Moreno competed in his first international archery event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His medals have been piling up since then.
In 2013, Moreno bested other Filipino archers in the Philippine National Games and Palarong Pambansa (National Youth Olympic Event). In the same year, he and fellow YOG delegate Bianca Gotuaco qualified in the Nanjing YOG after winning in the Taipei qualifiers.
Cordero said Moreno has an excellent support group and this helps him cope with the challenges he faces.
“His parents are very supportive and that’s crucial for a young athlete. He also receives support from the Philippine Archers’ National Network and Alliance (PANA),” the coach added.
Even before he competes in the Games, Moreno will already have the privilege of honoring his country by holding the Philippine flag in the opening ceremonies.
“All the other Filipino athletes are excellent so it’s a really big privilege to be the flag-bearer,” Moreno said.
The opening ceremonies of the YOG will be on Saturday, August 16. The archery event is set to happen on August 26.
“My mindset right now is simple: I’ll have fun, enjoy the games and do my best to make my country proud,” Moreno added.
Asked what he’ll be thinking when he walks down the olympic stage with the Philippine flag, Moreno quickly answered, “I hope I don’t trip.”