Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Feature Article
DECATHLON CHAMP ARIES TOLEDO
‘Up to my last ounce of strength… for my school, town and country’
By Elmo Roque

Sep 14, 2017

SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ – Trailing by nine points in the last event of the decathlon competition, and heavily bandaged due to pains all over his body, Aries Toledo had one thing in mind: to do it until the last ounce of his strength.

“For my school, my town and country, that was the overpowering resolve in my mind,” he said.

The event was 1,500-meter at the national stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where the 2017 Southeast Asia Games were being staged.

The man to beat was a Thai athlete, the gold medalist in the last Asian Games.

Steering clear of the finish line, he dropped to the ground in sheer exhaustion. Although he was first in that race, he wasn’t sure yet about the over-all results.

“Then I heard the public announcement. It said, ‘Winner of the gold in decathlon, the Philippines’. I let out a loud cry of joy,” Toledo said.

He amassed a total of 7,433 points, besting the Thai rival by 22 points.

It also erased the national record of 7,126 points registered by Jesson Ramil Cid at the Thailand open last June.

Still, to prove his grit, he said “yes” for the 4 x 400-meter relay tilt two days after. He, with another runner, substituted for the country’s top two runners who were injured.

They won the bronze medal.

Basketball

Born in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, Toledo, 23, revealed that his first love was basketball and that he wanted to become a soldier.

But then he had a change of heart as he was tapped, while in the elementary grades, in the running events in the school’s athletic meets.

“Nobody bested me then in running events. Sabi ng teacher ko, mabilis daw ako at walang tatalo sa akin (My teacher told me that I am fast in running and nobody could beat me in the races),” Toledo said.

But in the Palarong Pambansa in Dapitan City in 2010, when he was in in his 4th year in high school, he only placed fourth in long jump and in the 100m and 200m dashes.

“I told myself: ‘Magkikita pa rin kami balang araw’,” he vowed then.

Two years after, as a member of the athletic delegation of the Central Luzon State University (CLSU), he saw his saw his tormentors in the Palarong Pambansa competing in the National State Colleges and Universities Atletic Association (SCUAA) meet also in Dapitan City. That fired him up.

“I beat them in the 100m, 200m, long jump, 4 x 100 m, and 4 x 400 m events,” Toledo beamed.

Then in 2015, he was spotted by coach Sean Guevara in the National Open competition and was asked to join the national decathlon pool.

‘Greatest athlete’

Upon winning the gold in that Kuala Lumpur games, sports writers readily heralded him and Trenten Anthony Beram who was a double gold winner, as the “rookies” and the “nobodies” in sports who made big waves and stamped their classes in their respective events.

Toledo’s feat, though, was worthy of repeated exultation. In the Olympics, traditionally, the winners of the modern decathlon, which made its debut at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912, was given the title “World’s Greatest Athlete”. Current record holder is American Ashton Eaton with 9,045 points he scored in 2015.

Usually staged for two days, corresponding points are given to the competed events of 110m, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400m, 110-m hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and 1,500 meters.

Personal mission

At CLSU here, Toledo, spent three years taking up Bachelor of Science in Fisheries (BSAF). He shifted course last year and took up Education.

“I decided I will spend my life teaching sports to the youngsters in school not tending schools of fish,” Toledo said.

In his early years, he said, he was unsure of getting college education. His father, Arturo, was then only a tricycle driver and his mother, Rizalina, a plain housewife.

He has to younger brothers who were also in school.

He applied and qualified for an athletic scholarship in CLSU. He was allowed to stay for free in the athletes’ quarters and “every now and then, CLSU officials gave me financial assistance to defray my needs.”

He still stays at the athlete’s quarters along with other university athletes, including his younger brother Gabriel Mike who is also taking up DECATHLON CHAMP ARIES TOLEDO ‘Up to my last ounce of strength… for my school, town and country’ an education course thru athletic scholarship.

Hero’s welcome

On his return from Kuala Lumpur, Toledo was fetched by representatives of CLSU who tagged along his parents and brothers and billeted at the CLSU Alumni Hostel. He was then honored with a motorcade and a program. Dr. Tereso Abella, CLSU president, handed him cash award as an incentive.

He was also honored in his hometown and given cash incentive by Mayor Florida Esteban.

Cuyapo’s former mayor Amado Corpuz and brother Alan Corpuz tended a feast for the residents in their district in his honor. Mayor Nestor Alvarez of this city also honored him during the city government’s holding of the Monday flag ceremony.

Nueva Ecija Gov. Cherry Umali is set to honor him in an appropriate ceremony and then given cash incentive. The national government is also set to give him cash incentives along with the other Filipino winners in the SEA Games.

“Then maghahabol po muna sa mga atraso ko sa aking mga klase sa kolehiyo. At saka sabak po uli sa praktis para sa Asean Games sa susunod na taon,” Toledo said.



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