Sports Eye

Amazing Bugallon cyclist Salamat

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.


LIVING up to its expectation, the ‘Asipukpokan ed San Fabian’ bikefest held last January 7 was ran sans any untoward incident, thanks to the Lord and Mama Mary. To God be the Glory.

Likewise, my big thanks to the host town’s chief of police, Chief Inspector Arvin Jacob for a job well done securing the safety of the whole entourage especially the participants. Yes, of course, to my officials too. But first and foremost, my sincerest thanks to the town’s sports-minded chief executive, Constante B. Agbayani, and to his man-Friday, Sonny Imbuido. Without them, the event would not have been possible.

The affair was in connection with the annual town fiesta celebration, the fifth time to be conducted under his administration. Mabuhay po kayo mga ginoo.

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I was in Singapore in 2015 with my first child Jazy and watched the finals of cycling and basketball of that year SEA (Southeast Asia) Games. Unfortunately, we arrived late and failed to watch how our lone Pangasinan member of the Philippine national squad Marella Vania Salamat from Bugallon won the gold medal in the 30-kilometer individual-time-trial road event on her first try in international competition.  We received the news from former Pangasinan cyclist and now Singapore-based Danny Ganigan of Binalonan. This was confirmed in one of Singapore’s daily newspaper the following day.

Jazy and I were elated and proud because Salamat is a Pangasinense. Yes, she had proven again to the Filipino people that competitive cycling is a Pangasinense forte that brings honor to the province perennially. This was achieved too (gold) by Marites Bitbit of Barangay Lunec, Malasiqui in 2005 SEA Games.

Salamat, now 22, a University of the East dentist student, is the eldest of three brood of engineer Rodolfo Salamat and dentist Marivic Vania. The Bugallon pride rose to world cycling prominence by placing third in the 2016 World University Cycling Championship women’s road race, behind Romy Kasper of Germany and Nikol Plosaj of Poland. She was first in her last international race, the prestigious annual Tour de Suisse, in the 21-year old and below women’s category and placed second overall in the entire distaff side.

One can easily see how this newly discovered athlete from cycling crazy province Pangasinan slowly and surely rises in this two-wheeled sport. While she was the top favorite to win the women’s division in the San Fabian bikefest held last January 7, I was amazed and surprised to learn how she pushed the pedals of her bike in flat and hilly portions of the route, winning by more than four minutes ahead of her closest pursuer her teammate in the national squad Abegail Rombaon. She pedals like a professional male rider. No wonder she now belongs to the elite women cyclists of the world. It might be too early to say that if Marella continues to improve in the coming months, I have no doubt that the she will win the gold again in the 30-kilometer individual-time-trial road event in August this year’s SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur. Mark my word. Yes. I’ll try to be there and watch her this time.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God. Talked no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed. 1 SAMUEL 2: 2-3

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