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Kaizen dares to be different

Dela Serna
Dela Serna with her SEA Games teammates.
Dela Serna
Dela Serna in action.
Dela Serna
Dela Serna is one of Fearless Filipinas featured in the book.

FOR 2019 Southeast Asian Games obstacle course racing team gold medalist Kaizen dela Serna, it was love at first sight.

A promising gymnast before her change of heart, Dela Serna swears she fell in love with obstacle course racing the first time she tried her hand in the sport.

She is still madly in love with the sport, especially now that she is finding success as the country’s newest “Poster Girl” of obstacle course racing.

I love what I’m doing right now. Obstacle course racing is perfect for me because I had the strength, the balance, the grip and the speed to do it,” said Dela Serna during the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom recently.

I’m doing gymnastics since I was seven years old, but I find my transition to obstacle course racing very exciting. It helped me regain my passion,” explained Dela Serna during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

After gymnastics, I wanted to discover and try out new sports. I tried climbing, trail running and cheerleading. And then I found obstacle course racing.I fell in love with it because it is both fun and challenging.

A BS Entrepreneurship student at De La Salle University, Dela Serna said winning the gold medal in the SEA Games obstacle course racing competition last December 4 was a high point in her transition from gymnastics to obstacle course.

Dela Serna teamed-up with veterans Kyle Redentor, Monolito Divina and Deanne Nicole Moncada to rule the mixed team assist 400m x 12 obstacle with a time of 3:48.35. The Filipino quartet beat Malaysia by about 40 seconds for the gold medal.

And while there are no obstacle course races in the coming SEA Games in Vietnam later this year, Dela Serna is looking forward to more challenges this year.

In fact, she is getting ready for the Ultimate Ninja Athletic Association (UNAA) World Ninja Challenge in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 29-31.

In OCR, we have different categories, like the 100-meter ninja category and five kilometers and above long distance. I’m currently training in the ninja category. I competed just last week and I was able to earn a spot in the UNAA World Ninja Challenge in Las Vegas in July. Hopefully, matuloy ang competition dahil tuloy naman ang training ko.

Asked about her coming international competitions, Dela Serna admitted she has work cut out for her.

I actually love the challenges of the sport. Sa OCR, we have different obstacles for races. In the Ultimate Ninja Challenge, it was mostly upper body obstacles,” explained Dela Serna, who is also one of the 12 Filipina achievers featured in the soon-to-be launched book entitled “Fearless Filipinas Who Dared to Be Different.

Yun ibang obstacles naman, may kasamang running. Sometimes in different categories, they have longer runs compared to ninja because we only have around 100-meter run while they have five kilometer run. It’s really different depending on the country organizing the event,” claimed Dela Serna, who also now works as Marketing Director for Move On Delivery App.

Right now, I need to work on my upper body, especially since I’m a ninja athlete because it’s really upper body obstacles.We have monkey bars, ropes, rings and even balance beams. We also have walls like 8-feet wall similar to the American Ninja Warrior So that’s what I am currently working on right now.

De la Serna is also focusing on spartan races.

I was able to compete in the trifecta and that means competing in the 5-km race for Spartan, 10 kilometers and 21 kilometers. We have to do it during the weekends. On Saturdays, Spartan Sprint and Spartan Super, and the last one, 21 kilometers.

Dela Serna also thanked the Philippine Obstacle Sports Federation (POSF), headed by Atty. Alberto Agra, for continuing to promote the sport among the Filipinos.

She said the POSF is currently working out a deal with the Philippine Judo Federation (PJF).

They are actually asking most of our athletes and they want to us to join. Judokas teach us how to fall, and I think that we’re gonna learn for the them, and at the same time, they gonna learn from us as far as strength and conditioning.:

Also, we do a lot of home raining, lalo na may pandemic. My teammates and I also have regular zoom meetings and our coaches would provide us with a program to keep our bodies in good shape.

Before the pandemic, my teammates and I used to train at the Pretty Huge Obstacles in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. That’s one whole big gym with a lot of obstacles. We were able to train together as a team and we have different coaches for different categories. Our president, Atty. Agra, is really very supportive even now with this pandemic.

On the book Fearless Filipinas, Dela Serna hopes to provide inspiration to all.

I’m very happy for the opportunity to be part of Fearless Filipinas: 12 Women who Dared to be Different. My story focuses on OCR and the struggles I faced before overcoming them and getting a good life. Kasama din dito sina Angel Locsin, Asia Jackson, Jessica Cox, Dzi Gervacio and others. Different stories of success, not just in sports.It’s actually now available in www. bookshelf. ph,” said Dela Serna.

Looking back at gymnastics where it all started, Dela Serna believes Tokyo Olympics bet Caloy Yulo has a very good chance of winning a medal.

As a gymnast, I used to train a lot with Caloy. He’s really amazinv. He’s a hardworker. I know he’s gonna do really well in the Olympics.

As to hee own Olympic aspirations, Dela Serna has few choice words.

Maybe. I hope to go to the Olympics, too.” she admitted.

(With reports from Gab Ferraras/Photos from Kaizen’s social media page)