Monday, January 20, 2003
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Feature of the Month
ELMA MUROS - Still Running Strong

Interviewed by Aline Parrone

Retiring after 21 years in athletic competition, Elma is still running strong as mother, wife and coach/sports consultant. Even at her stature, she has remained a humble and warm person and gets flattered with interviews and meeting with fans.

Nilagay ako ni Lord sa tamang kalagyan kahit sa huling sandali ng huling laban ko. (I was put in right place by the Lord til the very end of the last competition) is how she credits her successes in life.

It was the early 1980s and the heyday of Philippine sports. The country was winning international sports events in the region here and there and medals were not hard to come by. A few athletes instantly became household names. Among them is a no-nonsense runner and durable heptathlon athlete named Elma Muros.

Born January 14, 1967 in Magdiwang, Sibuyan Island, Romblon to a farming family, she was 6th in a brood of 9. Relatives had already inkling what she was going to be even at young age. Her mother Alice was once a 400-meter runner herself in her youth; and at a young age, Elma loved to jump over plants.

But her real entry to professional sports came early when at 14 she competed and caught the attention of local government agencies eyeing potential athletes at the regional sports meet: the Southern Tagalog Regional Athletics Association (STRAA). She was handpicked by then Governor Isidro Rodriguez of Rizal and became an athletic scholar at Roosevelt College in that province while all the time training and competing. She was also one of the star athletes of high-profile sports program called Gintong Alay.

She would next enter Far Eastern University to take up B.S. Management and meet fellow sports scholar from Mindanao named Jorge "Jojo" Posadas. While an early marriage was not in her plans, it was a match made in "sports heaven". So at 21 she decided to quit school and raise a family. Now, that marriage has borne a lovely 10-year-old daughter named Klarizze. And Jojo became her personal trainer and coach to many a successful competitions.

In all these years, Elma remained steadfast and dedicated in her career as an ASEAN or Asian region wide) athlete. And the hard work did not go unrewarded either. She has accumulated more than 200 medals and has been cited by different organizations for the honor she has brought to her country. Asked which is the most special, Elma avers, "Lahat ng medalya ko espesyal sa akin, ginto man o simpleng ribbon lang yan, kasi pinaghirapan ko lahat yan" (All my medals are important, gold or simple ribbon, because I worked hard to get it).

Last September 2001 after finishing bronze at the heptathlon events at the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Elma finally announced her retirement. Long after her erstwhile contemporaries like Lydia de Vega and Isidro del Prado have left the sports world and after 21 years of competition and holding a total of 15 SEA Games gold medals, one of the most by any athlete, she says, "Alam ko na sa isip at katawan ko na pwede pa ako pero tama na. Nakamit ko na ang lahat na pwede kong makamit. Nagpapasalamat ako sa Diyos binigyan ako ng pagkakataong makamit ang mga karangalang ito." (I know in my mind and body that I can still do it but it is over. I have gotten everything I aimed for. I am thankful to the Lord for giving me these chances to get all these medals.)

But she has not giving up sports altogether. Though she is not doing it anymore, she is teaching and sharing her experiences this time. She presently serves as Consultant for Grassroots Level for the Philippine Sports Commission where she discovers and scouts young athletes with potentials from the provinces and other schools. As the head coach for University of the East Women Tracksters, Elma last December 14-17, 2002 propelled her ward to glory by winning the Championship in the women's athletics division of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Tournament, dethroning former winner, University of Sto. Tomas. Asked about this feat, Elma says, "Talagang masaya ako kasi natupad na rin yung pangako ko sa UE Administration na kunin naman yung Championship within three years, and our sacrifices paid off." (I am really happy because I fulfilled the promise to the UE Administration to snatch the Championship).

Busy Elma also reveals she derives the same, if not more enjoyment training young students at Brent International School in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. She says "It is a lot better to teach young kids sometimes because they are just starting and they don't have bad habits to unlearn unlike older wards." But most of all, Elma is a hands-on wife and mother. Even with household help, she makes sure she has a say on the meal planning and how the house is maintained. "I like to fix the house a lot. That is why when I went to Magdiwang for one day last December, all I did was to stay inside the house and fix things there. I also hung some of my sports memorabilia on the walls of our old house so that my relatives and neighbors would get a chance to read my experiences and accomplishments. Later some children and teachers came over and interviewed me."

Being interviewed and seen as a star is nothing new to Elma. But her popularity is not limited to sports alone. A few years ago, she became a product endorser of a known bath soap (Safeguard).

So how does a long-time athlete see Philippine sports a few years from now? "Mahirap sabihin. Kailangan may unity. At may continuity sa training lalo na sa national athletes. Kasi nandoon na sila. Kapag may nakikita na silang athlete na magaling, tutukan na nila. Yun namang nagsisumula pa lang, kailangang tulungan ng local government at DILG dahil kailangan din nito ng financial support. Kulang din kasi minsan sa incentives. At sa mga athlete din kasi, kailangan ang dedication, at tamang ensayo. (It's hard to say. Unity is important. So is continuity in the training of athletes, especially those who have already reached the top or national level. Those who are just starting meanwhile need help from the local government and DILG. They need financial support and incentives.At the same time, the athletes should show dedication and right training.)

Finally, what is Elma Muros Posadas message to her idols and young athletes who want to follow her footsteps?
" Walang imposible sa isang atleta na determinado at gusto ang ginagawa nila. Pero kung tamad siya at walang dediskasyon sa ginagawa niya, walang patutunguhan." (There is nothing imposible to a determined athlete and one who enjoys what he/she is doing. But if you are lazy and don't have dedication to what he is doing, nothing will come out of it.)

Magdiwang, Sibuyan Island, Romblon: On the street where she lived.
Photo by Aline Parrone