THIS kid is really worth his weight in gold.
Bicolano youngster John Adre Aguja of Go for Gold Philippines won another gold medal in the UCI-sanctioned Coupe de Japon, an Asia Cross Country series race held in Yawatahama, Japan.
Just two months after conquering the Thailand MTB Cup 1 in his international debut, Aguja once again proved his worth by beating highly-rated Japanese rivals by more than a minute, to the disbelief of the hometown crowd.
Aguja checked in at 1:06:10 - 1:21 faster than silver medalist Sho Takahasi and almost two minutes quicker than the pace of Yuta Uchino who finished with the bronze.
"Sa track read pa lang po nung Friday ramdam ko na malaki ang tsansa ko. Kasi po yung ruta na nilalaruan ko sa Bicol, mas mahirap pa. Ito kasi medyo mild lang ang ahon at lusong pati technicality n'ya hindi tulad nung mga nilalaro namin sa Bicol na mga makeshift track,” shared the soft-spoken pride of Iriga City.
“Masaya po ako sa experience na ito at nakita ko rin po 'yung disiplina ng mga kalaban ko. Ang dami ko po natutunan,” he added.
A product of the MTB talent identification program of Go for Gold last year, Aguja has so far won two gold medals and a silver in his three international campaigns.
His first gold and silver were from the twin Thailand meets last March. He was so happy after his international breakthrough that he slept with his medal.
He wasn’t able to defend his title in MTB Cup 2 as he prioritized his participation in Japan.
Go for Gold founder Jeremy Go, who was with Aguja and Gart Gaerlan (5th overall in the Juniors) in Japan, hopes that in two to three years, his wards will bring home more honor for the Philippines.
"I am happy that our MTB program, which we just recently started, is quickly reaping benefits. I am confident that in two to three years, John Andre will be a force to reckon with in Asian MTB. Kailangan lang nyang ituloy ang training at ang kanyang hunger to win titles. We will support him," said Go.
"Rest assured, basta para sa bayan, makakasama kami ni Andre at ng iba pa nating atleta. Let's go for more golds," he added.
Meanwhile, Go’s other MTB riders have also won medals in the Thailand MTB Cup 1 and Thailand MTB National Open in Chatanburi.
Justine Anastacio won the gold in the men’s juniors race of the Thailand National Open after taking the bronze in the Thailand MTB Cup 2.
Emmanuel Dave Montemayor won a bronze in the elite category of Thailand Open while James Carl dela Cruz also won a bronze in the elite competitions of the Thailand MTB Cup 2.