Photo by Paul Sugano/The LANCE.
From being rejected by a basketball team in his hometown to being one of the possible representatives of the Philippines for the 2019 South East Asian Games, Letran track and field star Russel Galleon has come a long way in his quest for glory.
The Zamboanga native first played track and field back in 2015. However, like any other Filipino,
Galleon’s first love was basketball. He first tried out for a spot in the basketball squad of Zamboanga Del Sur’s Sports Academy. Unfortunately, Galleon was not selected. “Nag-try out ako nung una ng basketball, kaso ‘di ako nakuha,” he said.
The rejection though, as much as it hurts the young Galleon, opened another door for him in which he was destined to strive. Galleon was approached by the coach of the local track and field team in Zamboanga and convinced him to try out for the squad.
‘’Nag try out ako ng track and field, ‘dun nakuha ako tapos kinuha ako ng coach doon sa amin,” he said. “Tapos isang taon lang ako nag training nag palarong Pambansa ako ng Davao,” he added.
Galleon represented Zamboanga Del Sur in the annual meet and garnered two silver medals for his beloved turf.
After his impressive stint in Palarong Pambansa, Letran track and field coach Jerry Atabay saw the potential that Galleon possesses and reached out to him immediately.
‘’Yung preparation nya kasi ‘dun sa Palaro, hindi naman ganun ka intense. Late na siyang nag-shift from ibang event to track and field,” Atabay said. Galleon made a pretty good case
for himself as a second placer; making the decision of selecting recruits hard for coach Atabay. After brief deliberation, Atabay then selected Galleon which holds a much higherceiling than the eventual champion.
“Maganda ‘yung takbo niya kaso makikita mo na kulang lang sa training, so ang nangyari hindi naming kinuha ‘yung nag champion, [ang] kinuha namin ‘yung nag second kasi alam naming ma-dedevelop e.’’
Although excited at first, Galleon’s parents had second thoughts on their son’s plan.
“’Di nga dapat papayag [‘yung] magulang ko na pumunta dito kasi daw malayo. ‘Di nila ako maasikaso na maayos,” he said.
“Sabi ko sakanila, sayang kasi ‘yung opportunity na makapag-aral ako ng college, nilakasan ko na lang yung loob ko kahit malayo sila,” he added.
As he entered Letran, he suffered his first setback of his career as he was unable to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association due to a failing grade.
“Ang hirap po talaga sobrang pag sabayin ng training tapos aral, kaya nagka-bagsak ako kasi nag a-adjust pa lang ako e, kaya ‘di ako nakapag laro nung una,” he said.
Last season, Galleon introduced himself in the NCAA track and field scene and made history by setting a record of 21.93 seconds in the 200-meter dash. He also bagged two silver medals in the 400-meter dash and 400-meter hurdles.
This year, Galleon hopes to break more record and live his life-long dream of representing the nation in the SEA games.
“Gusto ko pang mag break ng records, gusto ko lahat ng laro ko makapag break ako ng record,”
Galleon said. “Gusto ko mag SEA games talaga, ‘yun talaga pangarap ko,” he added.
In order to qualify for the SEA games, he needs to finish within 46 or 47 seconds in the 400M race. He finished with 48 seconds last season, a second away from his ultimate dream.
This season though, he is expected to surpass his record and qualify for the SEA games and Coach Atabay knows that the possibility of Galleon wearing national colors is very likely.
“Tinitignan naming ‘yung foundation niya, tinitignan naming ‘yung possible na ma-improve pa sakanya, malaki pa,” his mentor said.
With his humble attitude, drive, and love for the Colegio, Galleon is motivated now more than ever to face all the challenges he will encounter.
“Mahirap pero kakayanin, alang alang sa Letran,” he says proudly.