Peaks and valleys

SPORTS FOR ALL - Philip Ella Juico (The Philippine Star) - September 25, 2013 - 12:00am

In our first column for this year (January 2, 2013; “Bouncing back in sports and life”), written while we were in Vancouver, Canada, we shared with our readers the heroic saga of Martin Lorenzo, son of our classmate at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), Victor (Vic), and the former Lylette Ludan and the abiding faith of the Lorenzos in the Almighty.

It may be recalled that on August 10, 2011, four days before the Kona qualification in Camarines Sur (Camsur) 70.3 Cobra Philippines, Martin was shot by a car-riding gunman. Martin’s assailant, who was driving a white car, had cut into Martin’s lane in the middle of a busy Makati road almost hitting his front bumper and a jeepney Martin was following. 

What’s the connection between Martin and the Kona qualification? What’s so special about the Kona qualification? Kona is the capital city of the Big Island, Hawaii. Every October (this year, it will be held on October 12) the Ironman World Championship, a long distance triathlon competition, is held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The 2013 world championship will be the 37th such Ironman Triathlon World Championships which has been held annually in Hawaii since 1978, with an additional race in 1982.

There are roughly 1,500 of the fittest athletes that qualify to race in Kona from the 30 Ironman events worldwide. To join the 2013 world championship race, amateur athletes like Martin are required to qualify through a performance at an Ironman or selected Ironman 70.3race.

At the time that Martin was shot, he was in the middle of training to qualify for Kona. As we said in our January column, Martin had built his body in such short time to peak and race fitness. He had his last track workout and had finished his short session. He went inside the car to drive home and prepare his battle gear for the race. He was leaving the next day for Camsur. Martin had been on the road for only five minutes and was turning left into the street leading to Fort Bonifacio when a white car veered into his lane and almost hit his front bumper and a jeepney.

The jeepney driver was furious and decided to chase the car and, as Martin narrates it, “when we reached another traffic light, the jeepney driver asked me to come down and help talk to the driver in the heavily tinted white car. As I approached the driver’s side, the window was rolled down and I heard a loud bang. As I was stunned, it took a while until my body registered that I had been shot. The pain seeped in only after some time. I had to drive myself to the nearest hospital (St Luke’s Global) as no one bothered to assist me.”

Two hours after Martin reached the emergency room, he underwent surgery. The operation lasted from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The bullet narrowly missed his lungs and major arteries. Despite complete information given to the police (car license plate number, etc), the gunman remains scot-free. Martin’s assailant was not even brought in for questioning.

Three weeks out of the hospital, Martin and his Italian wife, Marzia, and children Matteo and Isabella, took a short vacation in Cebu. On June 24, 2012, Martin completed the full Ironman in Nice, France, finishing among the top 20 percent of the total athlete count and also within the 10- 20 percent in his age group.

At the end of the race, Martin wrote, “This one-day Ironman race is a replica of one’s entire life in bits and pieces. There are valleys and peaks that you must overcome, and it gets harder as one gets older in life (more responsibilities, etc). But it is not through your accomplishments that you are judged but the process that you undertook to get there – “winning is just a bonus.”

As part of his total recovery process and proof of his tremendous fighting spirit, Martin took part on August 25 in the Ironman Canada in Whistler, British Columbia,  site of the 2010 Winter Olympics

As recounted by Vic, after a grueling 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike, 40 km run, Martin finished 88th in his age division and 431st overall out of over 2,000 athletes.

For the Lorenzo family, Martin’s performance was another victory over the August 2011 shooting incident. It also showcased the dogged determination of athletes prompting Vic to say, “we have the highest respect for the thousands of athletes for their disciplines, dedication and perseverance (especially) when you are all alone biking or running; when the pain and discomfort is telling you to stop.”

Vic adds, “Canadians and the families of athletes are so nice that they kept on cheering and encouraging the athletes to go on to the finish line. Some were still at it after 12 hours. “You can do it. Finish line is just around the corner. Very encouraging Ironman culture.”

Vic ends, “God is good. We are victorious. The Ironman is like our Faith Journey. The peaks and valleys of our Faith.”

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