KATHRYN Victory Magno, the Philippines' lone bet in the first international speed skating tournament held in the country, won a bronze medal on the first day of competition at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.
Magno finished a fighting third in the first round of the Senior Ladies’ division in the 1500 meters of the 2014 Asian Open Short Track Speed Skating Trophy - just her second official competition.
Initially ahead of the pack in the first lap, the 24-year old Filipina-American finished in three minutes and six seconds behind Koreans Choi Ji Hyun and Kim Ju Young.
The three-day tournament organized by SM Skating Rink and the Philippine Skating Union lured 71 international delegates from eight Asian countries.
Short track speed skating is a high competitive Olympic sport that requires skaters racing in an oval ice format.
Usually held in South Korea or Japan, the ISU through its regional arm, the Asian Skating Union, partnered with the Philippine Skating Union to stage the country’s very first speed skating competition.
“We are very happy to have the tournament in the Philippines,” said Myong Hi Chang, president of the Asian Skating Union.
“Having said that, this is the first speed skating event of the Philippines, and we are very impressed with the SM Skating Rink and Philippine Skating Union,” added events official Sonia Chong of Singapore.
Chong said tropical countries like the Philippines can start a program to train rollerblade or in-line skaters who possess similar athletic profiles as speed skaters.
Represented in the tournament were young athletes from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. The Taiwanese sent the largest contingent with more than 30 speed skaters.
Nelly Magno, Kathryn's mother, told Spin.ph her daughter began her career as a figure skater when she was five years old and actually represented the Philippines in a number of competitions.
She began training in speed skating only five months ago.
"She sent a request for release to represent the USA in speed skating and she found out that PSU was hosting a short track and they asked if she would like to represent the Philippines and she said, 'Why not? I'm a Filipino citizen as well,'", explained the elder Magno who traveled with Kathryn from their home in San Jose, California to take part.
She said her daughter transitioned to the new sport because "she liked the speed."
Kathryn, who is being coached by ice skating notables coaches David Glenn and Justin Dillon, would also be racing in the Senior Ladies' 500 and 1000 meters in the three-day event as part of her commitment to represent the Philippines in speed skating and in the 2018 Winter Olympics.