Kareel competed in the third stage of the World Cup held in Antalya, Turkey on June 12-19, 2016. She also participated in the Olympic qualifying tournament during the same event, ranking 12th. She holds the record for the highest score in archery (women) for the Philippines.
“I believe every sport teaches you self-discipline.”
“You play a new game every time you compete. A good shot during your last game does not mean a good shot in the next.”
You’re one of the country’s prime archers today. What does that feel like?
“Like normal. [Laughs] But, yeah, it feels like normal, still. And it’s funny because when I was in high school, I never really qualified for the Palarong Pambansa. Maybe it’s one of those ‘just because you failed doesn’t mean you can’t stand back up’ clichés.”
“I once had an opponent who was 50 plus years old (there’s no age limit in archery). Go figure… It was fun though.”
“There was this tournament in Denmark. We were told it was summer so we brought clothes all summery and stuff. But when we landed, man, it was freezing. Call it a miracle or luck or whatever you want to call it, but a fellow [Filipino] – perhaps after seeing us almost shiver to death, pitied us – came and offered help. He gave us a bag containing coats and other winter stuff. My faith in humanity was kind of restored at that moment.”
You do your studies and archery at the same time. How do you handle that?
“Last semester, I had to be out from the classroom for two weeks to train in Korea. So what I did was, on evenings, I would exchange e-mails with my classmates and teachers to catch up on what I missed. You’re exhausted from the day’s training but you still have to work on your lessons. You cannot complain.”
Tell me about your training routine with the Philippine team.
“The training is pretty hardcore. We start shooting at 8 AM. We go on until noon. Then we resume at 2 PM; shooting runs until 6 PM. In the evening, we jog. Night shooting starts at 7 PM. We’re done by 9 PM.”
What does archery generally require?
“Mental alertness and focus. Those two things cover 99% of the equation.”
And the remaining 1%?
“Your skill as a player.”
When did you start doing archery?
“I learned how to shoot an arrow at first grade in primary. I started competing at third grade. My dad was the one who introduced me and my siblings to the sport.”
What’s the best part of being an athlete?
“It’s kind of odd because the best part isn’t even winning. To be able to travel and see places you only learn in class – that’s the best part for me. For one, I was able to see the Temple of Artemis in Greece on account of my sport.”
What’s your darkest moment as an athlete, so far?
“When I lost my first SEA Games tournament. I was turning 18 at the time and there was this ridiculous thought that maybe I could nail it because it was my 18th birthday, that it was my big day. But I lost.”
“In retrospect, I came to the conclusion that it’s okay to lose, as long as you know you gave it your all. And it should make you plow on and do better.”
What’s your greatest dream as an archer?
“Olympics! It’s every athlete’s greatest dream!”
How do you deal with life’s blows?
“Prayer. I have this perspective that everything that’s happening to me is according to God’s will and purpose.”
What are your words for those who are about to take a similar path as yours?
“Don’t give in to failure. Refuse to stop.”
Kareel is a gold medalist (6 gold medals, 1 silver medal) in the 2013 Batang Pinoy competition. She is also a gold medalist (11 gold medals) in the Baguio-Benguet Educational Athletic League archery event in 2014 and 2015. She won a gold medal at the Philippine National Games in 2013, 2015 and 2016. She is also a bronze medalist (team) in the 2014 Kolon Seoul Youth Archery Festa held in Korea. She is poised to compete in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Photo by DONALD RENTIQUIANO
Interview & Text by RONA LIN