NAY PYI TAW – Nancy Quillotes-Lucero thought she came into the 27th SEA Games judo competitions prepared for any move her opponents would make.
She just didn’t see this one coming.
Lucero’s bid for a third straight Games gold last Wednesday was denied, marring her impending retirement from the sport that has been so good to her.
“Move on, it’s God’s will,” was what Luceco said a day after the defeat to Sel Wee in the under-45kg finals, when there are no more traces of the tears she had been unable to hold back.
“I know the Lord has something much better for me. Maybe this is just one of His ways of testing me, my faith. But I’ve long ago put all my trust in Him, my fate in His hands.”
If only she could say the same for some of her fellow mortals, especially after what she’s just been through.
A penalty on Lucero right on the first minute of the match, for non-attacking, seems to have made up the mind of the Chinese referee to award the match to Wee. The decision came as quite a shock for those watching the match and like a stab in the heart for Lucero.
The decision would have been a more bearable one had there been a much better effort on Wee’s part to be the aggressor.
“Defensive posture lang siya kaya na-surprise din ako kung bakit ako ang na-penalize,” related Lucero, who beat the same judoka in the quarterfinals of the same event in Indonesia two years ago.
“Mas kontrolado ko ang laban kasi ako ang nasa itaas,” added Lucero. “Nahatak ko pa nga siya. Hindi ko lang siya naitapon, pero du’n pa lang kitang-kita na I was the more aggressive one.”
The tears start to well up anew, but she fought them off, much like the way she did most of her opponents since her Games debut as an under- 48kg judoka in 2001 en route to what would be the first of four silver medals for her.
Along the way, Lucero also copped two bronze medals, the last with the unfamiliar kata event in 2009 Laos. That was won in the morning. In the afternoon, she has her first gold in individual combat as a first-timer in the under-45kg class.
Not that her defeat here did not come without premonition.
Two days before the start of the competitions she had this disturbing dream. “Lumubog daw ako sa baha, maputik ang tubig,” she related. “Nagising ako na umiiyak at ang sabi ko, ‘Lord, huwag naman sana.’”
Lucero also couldn’t hold back her tears earlier Wednesday, when she advanced to the finals following a win over Thailand’s Orn Areeya Konngoen in their bracket. It was only in the last 38 seconds of the match she scored the yuko.
“Ayaw ko kasi talagang magpatalo. Gusto ko talagang masulit lahat ng hirap at pagod ko sa training and I became closer to the gold with that win,” said Lucero.
There is an extra motivation for Lucero. She hails from Dulag, Leyte, and Yolanda wiped out the houses of her family, kin and that of hers and her husband, Jyd, who she married after her 2011 Games stint.
“I was training in Manila at that time. It took me two days to get there and I stayed there for one week,” she reminisced. “The one thing I am grateful for is everybody in my family’s safe, notwithstanding the devastation. Kaya nga I so want to win this one. Para sa kanila at sa mga kababayan natin.”
It’s time to look ahead.
“This is my last SEA Games. I’ll be turning 34 na sa February (21) kaya it’s about time na to focus sa pamilya, magkaroon ng anak.”