DAGUPAN CITY – The athletes here are bringing more pride to the city in ways that are more than just their  medals and accomplishments.

For the past years, the achievements set by the city’s athletes have been undeniable – ending the decades-long medal drought of Dagupan in the Region 1 Athletic Association (R1AA) meet and cementing its sports dominance as back-to-back champions in 2018 and 2019.

The herculean feat was successfully achieved through the joint efforts between the city government and the athletes.

Through Mayor Belen T. Fernandez’s initiatives and outpouring of support, the athletes were able to sharpen their skills with unyielding determination through several sports programs.

These included the annual summer sports clinic, free swimming lessons and the regular trainings conducted under the city’s Building the Future: Developing Our Excellence in Sports (BTF: DOES IT) program.

Now, the accomplished athletes who had their humble beginnings in the said programs are working to pass it forward to their fellow youth.

John Enrico Vasquez, one of the city’s bemedaled athletes winning medals  in both national and international competitions, has taken it upon himself to train other aspiring athletes in the city.

His passion and love for sports has compelled him to give back to his community by training Karate to younger Dagupeños in the city’s annual summer sports clinic.

His efforts proved fruitful, adding another notch in his belt when he successfully produced more promising athletes.

This, after his trainees, all students from West Central Elementary School (WCES) 1, hauled numerous medals in their events during the recently concluded Batang Pinoy Luzon qualifiers last March.

Through his guidance, the city’s Karatedo team proved its mettle by hauling a total of four gold, two silver and four bronze medals in the competition.

Vasquez is joined by other star athletes and fellow Karate Philippine Team members Jayson Ram Macaalay, Mark Andrew Manantan and Matthew Manantan in training younger athletes.

At the same time, the city’s Wado Ryu girls are also following in the efforts of their fellow athletes.

Arriane Brito, Abigail Brito and Rheila Angel Duva, medal haulers during the first Karate Pilipinas National Championships, have joined fellow Wado Ryu members Rita Alexis Cuadra (Bacolod City), Khyssa Paltep (Bolinao) and Joana Paulen Singsing (Bolinao) in providing free karate training to young girls in the city.

In their own training, the Wado Ryu girls are not only encouraging young girls to take up combative sports, but are also inspiring them through their achievements that female athletes can be just as passionate and formidable as their male counterparts.

The noble act of giving back to their fellow youth stemmed from the athletes’ genuine love for both sports and community.

It is a recognition of their responsibility not just in paying forward the extensive support given to them by the city government, but also as role models for their fellow Dagupeños.

The free Karatedo training offered by the young athletes can also be availed of during the annual summer sports clinic being regularly conducted by the Dagupan City Sports Commission (DCSC).

This year’s clinic features 11 sports events, and will commence until May 30. (Verdelle De Vera/CIO)