PROMISING archer Luis Gabriel Moreno recently gave the Philippines a reason to celebrate when he copped the country’s first-ever gold medal in the Youth Olympic Games held in Nanjing , China .
Moreno teamed up with Chinese Li Jiaman in beating Muhammad Zoklepeli of Malaysia and Cynthia Freywald of Germany in the mixed international recurve finals via an impressive 6-0 win on 38-37, 38-35, 37-33 scoring system at the Fangshan Archery Field.
The Filipino-Chinese tandem made it to the finals by ousting Verona Villegas of Venezuela and Boris Balaz of Slovakia in the first round, 5-3; Hiroki Muto of Japan and Sughrakhanim Mugabilzada of Azerbaijan in the quarterfinals, 5-1; and Eric Peters of Canada and Mirjam Tuokkola of Finland in the semifinals, 5-1.
The 16-year-old Moreno , in fact, almost missed the quarterfinals.
After the morning session, Moreno and his family went out to have lunch. On their way back to the venue, they were stuck in traffic but still able to make it after arriving to the competition site just a couple of minutes before the games resumed.
“I was already crying inside the cab and my dad was panicking. Everybody had warmed up. So I just concentrated. I just did my best,” narrated Moreno .
It was the Philippines’ first gold in the Youth Olympic Games after failing to win a medal in the inaugural edition in 2010 held in Singapore.
“It’s a big win for us coming from the third world country,” added Moreno , a grandson of celebrity icon German Moreno, also known as “Kuya Germs.”
For bringing honors to the country, Moreno received a whopping P2.5 million cash incentive from the government through the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
“I will use the incentive for my training and future international competitions,” said Moreno .
He was also elevated to the elite group of athletes who receive a monthly allowance of P40,000 and an additional P40,000 monthly that will be used in preparation for his international exposures.
Moreno was actually into basketball, karate, swimming, badminton and football before finally deciding to go full-time on archery, according to his father Federico, the newly-elected Philippine Archers National Network and Alliance Inc (PANNA).
He was a multi-gold medalist in the Palarong Pambansa, and reigned supreme in the PSC-sanctioned Batang Pinoy and Philippine National Games.
Moreno secured a spot in the Youth Olympic Games by winning the gold medal in the 2013 Asian Archery Championships-Continental Quota Tournament held in Taipei , Taiwan . He defeated Prennoy Muroy of Bangladesh in the semifinals, 6-2, and Panjaji Bukhori Rahmat of Indonesia in the finals, 6-0.
His next target? The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with high hopes of ending the country’s almost nine-decade gold-medal drought in a regular Olympics.
“My next goal is to qualify in the 2016 Olympic Games,” said Moreno .
“We’ve put in place a six-year training program, not only for the 2016 Rio de Jainero Olympics but also for the 2020 Olympics and the World Championship. Our mission is to win a gold in both Olympics and the World,” Federico said.