NATIONAL squash champions Jemyca Aribado and Robert Garcia are doing their best to stay in shape despite the many restrictions brought about by the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Aribado and Garcia, who are both currently ranked No. 1 in squash in the country, believe their hard work and determination to excel will be rewarded with more victories for the country next year.
“To be a squash champion, we need to be both physically and mentally fit at all times,” said Aribado during the 15th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom last Thursday.
“Squash is an extemely competitive sport. It is every bit mental as it is physical. You always need to be physically and mentally sharp, ”added Aribado during the weekly session sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
Aribado, who holds the distinction as the first Filipino player to make it to the list of the world’s Top 100 players, said training remains as her priority even during the lockdown..
“Even with the pandemic, tuloy-tuloy lang paghahanda namin para sa mga darating na local and international tournaments next year,” added the 26-year-od squash champion.
“Personally, I train a lot. Every week. I play a lot in a private gym in Muntinlupa owned by a Japanese friend who is married to a Filipina. Meron po siyang squash court sa rooftop nila na malapit sa bahay namin. Nag-volunteer din po siya to pick me up papunta sa bahay nila, at i-drop ako pagbalik. Tinuturuan ko din yung kapatid ng wife niya.Twice a week po ginagawa,” explained Aribado, who is currently ranked No. 86 in the world.
“Pero sa private club po, hindi pa nagpapasok ng guests. Only members lang po at kailangan mo pa po maging member, which is expensive. Kaya sa private club, di pa ksmi puwede.”
Garcia, for his part, said he is also keeping himself busy during the lockdown.
“Bumili na din ako ng mga training equipment para makatulong sa akin na mag-gain ng weight. Maybe 6-7-pounds.Tapos nag-enroll din ako sa isang fitness gym para mas lalong lumakas pa yung katawan ko,” said Garcia, who captured a bronze medal in the men’s singles during the 30th Southeast Asian Games held at the Manila Polo Club in Makati last year.
“Ang target ko hanggang 65 pounds para at least ma-subukan ko maglaro at malaman kung babagal ba ako or parehas lang yung speed na mangyari pagka-nag gain ako ng weight,” explained Garcia, ranked No. 119 in the world.
Asked about the World Squash Day celebration on Oct. 10, both Aribado and Garcia said they intend to participate and join hands with fellow athletes in the squash community.
“Meron po kaming ginawang video for World Squash Day. Ang video is working out, running, at lahat ng mga ginagawa namin (during pandemic),” said Aribado.
“Pero pwede din po mag-participate ang lahat. Di po namin sure kung until kailan po pwede mag-submit. Ang question lang po sa video ay “Why do you love squash?” tapos magbibigay po kayo ng short message na why do you love squash at ise-send niyo po sa Philippine Squash Academy FB page,” she explained.
The two high-ranking squash players also thanked the PSC, headed by Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, and Philippine Squash Academy (PSA), led by Robert Bachman and Vince Abad Santos, for their continued support to the athletes.
“Three months ago, nag-start na yun allowance na 50 percent. Pero I know may Bayanihan Act II, na ipinasa ni President Duterte para mabalik yung allowance namin. Hopefully, this month.”
She was also thankful to the PSC for providing the meeds of the squash players, including equipment.
“Pero dahil nga sa nangyaring pandemic, hindi din naman namin totally nagagamit kahit yung mga competition at training uniforms namin sa ngayon,” recalled Aribado.