“My faith in the Lord, believing in myself, and recognizing my capabilities are what keep me going.” This is the affirmation that Mariane Mariano, a freshman BSED (MAPEH major) student of Adamson University, believed in to win a gold medal in the wushu (sanshou) female 60-kg category at last year’s 25th Southeast Asian Games held at the Lao International Trade Exhibition and Convention Centre-ITECC in Vientiane, Laos from December 8 to December 18, 2009. Mariano, along with eight wushu athletes, were among the most bemedalled group of athletes from the Philippines, bagging silver and bronze medals in every weight category they represented. A three-round semifinal contest saw Mariano knocking off her Laotian opponent, who settled for the bronze, and later on proved to be unmatched as she disposed of Vietnam’s candidate in two sets during the championship round. Vietnam would have to settle for the silver.
Her grounding measures prior to the SEA Games were not as intensive compared to her earlier training sessions which were customarily held in China. Her training here in Philippines is completely much different, from wide-ranging and thoroughly intricate moves to relatively basic wushu training like wrestles, punches and kicks. Nevertheless, Mariano and the rest of the team were enthusiastic to continue their good form and be mentally alert and physically equipped for the unexpected actions of their opponents.
Mariano has always pushed herself to the top of the game. Her earlier achievements include winning a silver medal at the World Games competition in Taiwan and another silver at the Asian Martial Arts Games in Thailand. Her latest achievement brought her to Malacañang Palace as she and other SEA Games medalists paid a courtesy call on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Back in 2007, Mariano injured her right knee which was badly swollen due to a wrestling run-through during training which led to an operation and later a knee suctioning. She never let this injury plague her, though. “Being in wushu, there will always be injuries during training and games and that’s quite hard to deal with, but it never stops me,” she says. Although it did affect her physical movement because of the pain, Mariano showed no signs of helplessness and giving up the game.
There are also people behind Mariano’s climb to success. Julian Camacho, President of the Adamson University Alumni Association, Inc. (AUAAI) and currently the Secretary General of the Wushu Federation Philippines, helped Mariano move to AdU from the University of the Cordilleras in Baguio and keep her training on the right track. “Without the assistance and support of Sir Julian Camacho, I don’t think I would be here. I owe it to him,” she professes. Lui Yu Fu, her coach since she started in 2006, is also another reason for her success; she considers Lui to be her second father.
Mariano, a future teacher, is also in the Philippine Air Force, where she holds the rank of Airwoman. She says of her stint in the Air Force: “Aside from being in the world of sports and finishing my college education, I would also like to serve the country as a public servant.” When asked how she felt when she won, she proudly answered, “I am happy because I was able to make it to the end of the competition. But it’s not just about winning, it’s also because I happen to be a Filipino athlete and I am so proud of it.” With her discipline, confidence, and athleticism, Mariano will surely knock down tough challenges in the future. Maricris Gali