His nickname “Coher” is rather strange and distant from Jerome Margallo, his real name. Never mind the spelling but it sounds like “Coger,” Spanish for “to seize with the hand,” “to lay hold of.” Then look at the impressive record of medals he has accumulated from various pole vault competitions here and abroad and his nick starts to make sense. You even get the feeling that collecting (medals) is second nature to him. Consider this: a gold in the National Open (2002), two golds from the UAAP (2003, 2005), a gold in the 53rd Sabah International Track and Field Open (2006), a bronze in the Hong Kong Inter-City Athletics Challenge (2006) and another gold in the Singapore Open (2008) to name a few.
His secret? “I always want to break my previous personal best. Even if I win, yet did not achieve a much higher record, I’m not satisfied with my winning,” Jerome reveals.
This hardy and spunky Waray, the only child of Engr. Sally Margallo and Raul Gargantilla, both of Palo, Leyte, has what it takes to go fly and clear a high crossbar with the aid of a fiberglass pole. But he candidly admits that at Adamson, he started from scratch. An uncle, Rolando Margallo, who is a librarian in St. Vincent Seminary in Quezon City, introduced him to the head coach of AdU Track and Field - Inocencia Embile. It was then that he got the chance to join the training, although starting at first as a lowly water boy. He eventually appreciated the adrenalin-pumping game of pole vault in spite of its inherent dangers. Later on, he decided to undergo training with the national team since the members had access to the complete equipment.
In a year’s time, he became part of a track-and-field event in Adamson University and also became a decathlete. “At first, the training was rigid and it was really hard for me to follow every instruction given by my coach, plus the fact that in order to have a good take-off and a safe fly-away, you need to have a background in gymnastics”, relates this Junior Political Science student.
During the 66th and 67th UAAP season, Coher was a back-to-back gold medalist and a bronze medalist in decathlon in the latter season. The gold win was repeated in Season 68.
But sadly, the track-and-field sport was abolished from the nine events of the Adamson Falcon Team in 2006. Soon, however, he met Emerson Obiena, himself a pole vaulter (a Southeast Asian Games veteran), and assistant coach of the National Pole Vault Team. This chance encounter became an opportunity for him to be integrated into the national team.
“What I really like about Jerome is his overflowing confidence level that every pole vaulter must have. He is very aggressive and determined to what he is doing. Pole Vault is a very spectacular event anywhere in the world because of the extreme heights reached by the competitors. I can say that only few breed of men can do this intense game. Anybody can run but this one is closest to flying that matches up with complicated movements,” Coach Obiena explained.
Jerome is now ranked third in the national pole vault team. In his latest important match last August 2 and 3, 2008 in the Singapore National Open, he easily cleared the 4.5 meters, while his coach Obeina recorded only 4.3 meters. He landed in first place, out-vaulting his very own coach who had to settle for second.
“Before I make my eighteen strides, I always visualize myself doing the proper execution, speed, and timing in order for me to clear every centimeter of my record,” Coher confesses.
“I’m so happy that my player, Jerome, won over me. It only means that there is someone who will continue what I started, and I should be proud because they say if a player outplays his coach, it only means that he had a good mentor. Besides, I will not give it up if I know Jerome is not worthy enough as a pole vaulter,” says Coach Obiena. Pole Vault is a personal record sport, and according to him, your number one competitor is yourself – how to break your previous record.
“I’m so happy because I did not expect to really excel in this game, and now as a national team player, I really have to work harder because I’m aiming to play and get a much higher record this coming SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games),” Coher concludes.
With that confident attitude, expect him to haul in more medals for Adamson University. Valerie G. Espiritu