■ Ofelia C. Empian
Homegrown athlete Sandi Menchi Abahan has vowed to come back stronger following the Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) World Championships in Genk, Belgium.
Abahan helped raise the Philippine flag with her teammates from the Pilipinas Obstacle Sports Federation where they brought home six gold, five silver and two bronze medals.
She described her experience at the world’s mecca for the OCR sports or ninja race course, and was quick to admit that she needed to work on her upper body strength.
OCR is a sport composed of disciplines and events where athletes run and/or overcome obstacles in timed races.
Despite not being able to hit the podium, the two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist finished her 100-meter, three-kilometer, 15-km., and six-km team relay races within the official time.
Abahan and teammates Jeff Reginio and Mervin Guarte placed 16th overall in the mixed team relay during the international event slated Sept. 14 to 16.
“Overall, our experience at the first WOC presented us with more than a handful of lessons. I hope there’s a next year. And I hope to do much better,” Abahan said.
Kevin Pascua bagged the gold in the male OCR 100 meters while Precious Cabuya and Kaizen dela Serna got the female OCR 100-m. silver and bronze.
The national team also inspired other participants during the international event with its various para athlete winners, namely Renson Embradura gold medalist in the P2-P4 OCR 100-m.; gold medalist Julius Obero in the P2 OCR 100-m.; double gold medalist Aga Casidsid in the P5 OCR 100-m. and three-km. OCR short course; double silver medalist Kent Tumangan in the P2 to P4 OCR 100-m. and three-km OCR short course; double silver medalist Calib Sim Jr. in the P2 to P4 OCR 100-m. and three-km OCR short course; and Andrea Estrella bagging gold in the P5 OCR 100-m. and bronze medal in the three-km OCR short course.
In the para OCR, the P1 category is for wheelchair-user athletes; the P2 to P4 is for the ambulant athletes who run with or without the use of approved prosthesis and/or supportive device; while the P5 athletes are those with visual impairment who go through obstacles with a guide.