By: Lindsay Santos
Photo Credit: the PNBLSA Facebook Page
The Philippine bobsled team are back in Calgary to continue training as they work towards their goal of becoming the first Southeast Asian bobsled team to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The team proved that they are a force to be reckoned with when they won bronze at the Alberta Cup Provincial Championship back in March – a feat made even more impressive considering that compared to their Canadian counterparts, they had significantly less practice time on the ice track and very little experience under their belt.
Philippine Coast Guardsmen Jerby Deriada, Jeffrey Dela Cruz, and Joseph Acosta are joined by new member, Rey Fernandez, after the retirement of Sid Isidro.
“This time around, our athletes are much better prepared because they’ve undergone more refined pre-season training, they will have more training time here than they did last winter, and they have access to better equipment so there will be major improvements,” says Buddy Cunanan, Philippine National Bobsled, Luge, and Skeleton Association, Inc. (PNBLSA) founder and president.
Pre-season training in the Philippines focused on bobsled- specific exercises. In order to develop the explosive power needed for bobsledding, the team tapped into the services of one of the finest strength and conditioning performance coaches in the Philippines, Jay Lopez.
“Our guys were also able to focus on track work twice a week at a proper oval in Ateneo University that simulated the same movement and running technique for the push-start,” Cunanan says. Post-training, the team would head straight to the physical recovery centre in the Philippines that helps athletes’ bodies recover through different machines and therapies.”
Due to the closure of WinSport’s ice track, the team will split their practice time between Calgary and Whistler, BC. They will practice perfecting their push-start at Calgary’s Ice House and head to Whistler with the Alberta Bobsleigh Association (ABA) to practice ice track driving for a few weeks. On November 17th, the team will compete in the next Alberta Cup Provincial Championship in Whistler. Cunanan is hopeful that the Filipino community will come together again to help cheer the Philippine bobsled team on to victory.
“Last Alberta Cup was a fantastic success because so many Filipinos came to cheer for our guys,” he said. “The amazing turnout and support brought the entire place to life and the athletes felt so inspired. It really contributed a great deal to their success.”
The PNBLSA would like to renew their ties to the Filipino community in Calgary and establish the same kind of synergy with the Filipino community in Whistler.
“We welcome any help that anyone wants to extend, even if they just want to come watch their practices, make the guys feel welcome by inviting them out, volunteer to help them get around the city, donate, everything makes a difference,” Cunanan says.
The PNBLSA’s plan for this season is to work closely with Fiesta Filipino to build up awareness, moral support and to continue fundraising efforts. Cunanan acknowledges that corruption in sports in the Philippines has always been a big issue but stresses that the PNBLSA has a commitment to the community to be fully open, transparent, and accountable to the last cent where expenses and money are concerned.
“We realize that donations come from all sorts of people that make hard earned money so we have a moral obligation to not do anything that would ruin or besmirch the people’s confidence,” Cunanan says.
For more information and the latest news on the PNBLSA, follow their Facebook page under The Philippine National Bobsled, Luge, and Skeleton Association.