The little big champ
This petite Cebuana runner proves that size doesn’t matter
At first glance, one would have second thoughts of Lourence Yvory Garcia’s capability of winning in a major footrace.
Standing barely four feet with a thin frame, the sixth grader of the University of San Carlos-Basic Education (USC-BED) runner can’t be noticed that easily, especially amidst a sea of green made up of around 19,000 runners.
But the 11-year-old Garcia stood tall among the colossal number of runners who joined the 42nd National Milo Marathon (NMM) Cebu leg last Sunday, winning the girls’ 3-kilometer race against more favored bets.
Garcia outran the 3,000-plus runners in the 3k category, clocking in at 11 minutes and 43 seconds. Former champion Jessel Ochia settled for second place with a time of 12:11 while Stephanie Conde rounded off the top three, clocking 12:27.
Her performance reminded many of another petite Cebuana runner who eventually became the country’s Marathon Queen, Mary Joy Tabal.
Garcia shared that she actually idolizes the Olympian and Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Tabal.
Tabal, a five-time National Milo Marathon women’s champion, also started her dream in this running series.
“I want to become like her (Tabal). That is why I am training very hard everyday,” said Garcia.
Her training seems to be leading her to the right direction.
Prior to her victory in the Milo tilt, Garcia stamped class in several short distance races in Cebu this year such as the DSOS Run, the PSC Sinulog Fun Run, the 7-Eleven Run, and the RC Goldline Run.
This is Garcia’s first win in the NMM. Last year, she only placed sixth. But the little runner has a big heart, which is why she managed to improve a lot in this year’s NMM.
Her coach, Arvin Loberanis, can attest to the dedication of Garcia.
“I see a lot of potential in her. She has the attitude, the fighting spirit, and most of all a lot of heart,” said Loberanis.
Loberanis, who discovered the youngster in 2016, said things didn’t start well for Garcia, losing several races here. “But I was very amazed because she never gave up,” he said.
What amazed him more is Garcia’s dedication to training, no matter what happens.
“Every day she always shows up at training. She never asks you questions and she’s a very good listener. In short, she has the quality of a good athlete,” added Loberanis.
Garcia’s story is again a reminder that size doesn’t matter in running as long as one’s got a huge heart for the sport.
Tabal proved that before and it seems that Garcia, with proper guidance, is well on her way to becoming the next Marathon Queen.
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