Cager turned trackster John Marvin Rafols delivers after winning triple jump gold in ASEAN School Games
Filipino triple jumper John Marvin Rafols holds the gold medal he won during the 9th ASEAN School Games. With him is compatriot Karl Arvyn Aquino (2nd from left), who salvaged the bronze in the same event. Philippine Sports Commission photo

SINGAPORE – John Marvin Rafols is not about to let his first – and probably last – ASEAN School Games stint end up in tatters.

The Filipino trackster registered a personal-best of 15.02 meters to bag the boys’ triple jump gold at the Bishan Stadium here on Monday.

Rafols, a Grade 12 student at the University of Cebu, added the gold medal to his collection after earlier bagging the bronze medal in the long jump.

Srinonta Nattapong of Thailand leapt 14.91 meters to snag the silver, while fellow Filipino Karl Arvyn Aquino, who won the long jump gold on opening day, settled for the bronze (14.88 meters).

“I am really happy to bring honor for the country. Big blessing for me as an athlete,” said the eighteen-year-old eldest son of Josephine, a sales clerk, and Marvin Rafols.

The gold was the 10th overall for Team Philippines, including the six it won in swimming during the first two days of the event that aims to strengthen ties among student-athletes of ASEAN member countries.

Rafols admitted getting nervous during big competitions, but that didn’t deter him from shining in his very first international stint.

“Mahirap dito (International). Kelangan ng confidence. Hindi kasi kilala ang kalaban. Pero nagdasal lang ako before yung turn ko,” said Rafols who underwent two weeks of training at the Philsports Complex in Pasig City in preparation for the meet.

The Filipino trackster knew he can win the gold after Nattapong fell short on his target distance during his final jump.

The eldest among four siblings, Rafols revealed he was a former basketball player during his elementary years, but was recruited as track and field athlete by one of his mentors, coach June, to join his team.

“Malakas daw kasi akong tumalon,” Rafols quipped. “Kahit first love ko ang basketball, dito ako nagshi-shine eh.”

Rafols’ ultimate dream is to become a member of the national team, something which he knew won’t be easy, But he has committed himself to train harder and improved as an athlete.

“Ang sa akin lang po is ginagawa ko na po yung malilit na steps to make it into a reality,” Rafols said.

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