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Rower Melcah Caballero paddles her way to the 2021 Olympics

By ANTHONY SUNTAY, The Philippine STAR Published Nov 02, 2020 4:00 pm

Shouldn’t it be natural for most of our athletes to engage in water sports since we are comprised of some 7,000 islands?

I’ve always wondered why we haven’t taken advantage of this fact by concentrating more on sports where our athletes can train easily.

Well, Melcah Caballero is one athlete who is drawn to water.

“My friend invited me to try rowing. Since then, I fell in love with the sport. I started my goals little by little, and built hopes and dreams to become a better rower. Rowing teaches me to become a stronger person physically, mentally and emotionally. I learned to make sacrifices and deal with hard training,” shares Melcah.

Melcah loves to compete on a bigger stage, but the pandemic has thrown a wrench into her plans.

“Due to COVID-19, all the competitions were cancelled. But we are now preparing for Olympic qualification, which will happen in April 2021,” she explains.

Our rowers have proven to be world class in past competitions, and Melcah looks forward to continue that winning tradition.

“Filipino athletes have a strong heart to win. We are driven by our hopes and dreams. I’m not saying it will be easy, but I believe we can shine and win medals in international competitions, even the Olympics. With enough support from our government and the advancement of our training facilities, our athletes will definitely have the upper hand in every stage that they will compete,” Melcah adds.

And she showed the local community her tremendous potential winning a gold medal in last year’s SEA Games.

“All the medals that I’ve won have different stories of hard work. But I can say that my greatest accomplishment as a rower was winning two golds in the 2019 SEA Games. There were a lot of doubt, pain, tears and sacrifices behind those medals. I think our teamwork really helped us a lot to do better in every training session. We were supported not just by our association, but by the whole country which fuels me more to do my best,” Melcah enthuses. “The whole team was longing for gold. I did my best and felt that I was finally able to give  back to my rowing family who helped and supported me throughout my journey.”

Aside from the medal, Melcah considers discipline and overcoming her fears as her biggest accomplishments. “Rowing made me a better person,” she says.

Mulch hopes that her story will inspire more athletes to get into rowing.

“The Philippines has a fanbase dominated by basketball and volleyball. If rowing gets as much support from the public and advertisers, the rowing community will inspire more Filipinos to try the sport. We now have rowing teams in some universities like Ateneo and the University of the Philippines, and we’re looking forward to introduce the sport to other schools also,” Melcah adds.