Fil-Canadian bet to teach Pinoy kids?
- Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 29, 2012 - 12:00am

LONDON – One of the world’s top archers Crispin Duenas is a Canadian of Filipino descent and someday, the 26-year-old bowman hopes to visit the Philippines where his parents Rolly and Elena were born and married before migrating to Toronto in 1977.

The 5-7, 179-pound archer is ranked No. 29 in the world and at the 72-arrow seeding here last Friday, scored 678 points to claim eighth spot among 64. He faces Egypt’s Ahmed El-Nemr in the first round of the knockout eliminations tomorrow.

Duenas said a few years ago, he was invited to shoot for the Philippines but Canada wouldn’t allow his release. “I’m constantly travelling to join competitions,” he said. “But if there’s a chance, I’d go to the Philippines and do clinics for young archers. Right now, I’m a full-time archer. I used to be a lifeguard at the YMCA but at the moment, I’m focused on trying to win as many gold medals as I can.”

Duenas said he’s not sure where his parents are from in the Philippines. “I’ve heard them talking about Manila and Malabon,” he said. “I’m sure we have relatives in the Philippines although I don’t know any of them. I’ve never visited the Philippines. If I go to do clinics, I probably wouldn’t want to disrupt what the national coach from Korea is teaching. I’ll do motivational talks and share my experiences in world competitions.”

At the seeding, Duenas said he woke up at 4 that morning. “I slept at around 9 or 10 the night before but had to get up early so we could be ready to board the bus for the ride to the Lord’s Cricket Ground and start warming up by 7,” said Duenas. “My parents and girlfriend flew in from Canada. I’ve been in London since July 21 and we’re staying until Aug. 13.”

Duenas’ coach Joan McDonald discovered Duenas shooting for fun at the Archers of Caledon Club in Toronto when he was 14. “He was using a compound bow and I saw right off, he had awesome potential,” said McDonald, a two-time alternate on the Canadian Olympic team. “He converted to recurve and quickly made progress. Cris is now Canada’s top archer and he’s been No. 1 forever. At the World Cup in the Dominican Republic two years ago, he finished second. He represented Canada at the Beijing Olympics but that was more like gaining experience than anything else.”

McDonald, 69, said she wouldn’t be surprised if Duenas captured the gold medal here. “He’s fit, his body is perfect for archery and he’s got a positive attitude,” she said. “I’ve been his coach ever since he started taking shooting seriously. I know his parents quite well. I know he understands Tagalog but doesn’t really speak it, having been born and raised in Canada. He’s very proud of his Filipino heritage.”

Duenas’ parents are now retired. His father was involved in information technology while his mother worked in logistics with Canadian National Railway. Duenas attended Birchmount high school in Scarborough and finished his physics and math studies at the University of Toronto.

“Will Cris ever shoot for the Philippines?” wondered McDonald. “For sure, Canada won’t give him up. He’s Canada’s No. 1 archer without question. He’s a fine young man and a credit to both Canada and the Philippines.”

After the seeding, Duenas took the subway from St. John’s Wood to Startford alone to meet up with his Canadian girlfriend. He wore his Olympic ID, Canadian team shirt, shorts and black sneakers. Commuters in the underground train asked Duenas about his participation in the Olympics and he readily answered questions from fans. Someone who recognized Duenas said, “You’re talking to one of the world’s best archers.”

Duenas said he has met Filipino archers in several international competitions. “I’m hoping Mark (Javier) does well in the knockout rounds,” he said. “Like the Philippines, Canada has just one male and one female archer. We missed out on the team competitions twice, once finishing fifth and another time, ninth, in the qualifiers, not high enough to make it to London.”         

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