DARWIN, Australia – Abegail Manzano did perhaps one of the most touching gestures here in the 2019 Arafura Games.
The 19-year-old Manzano took the silver medal despite finishing third in the women’s 800-meter run, after the second placer, Makayla Siddons of Northern Territory, was disqualified due to lane infringement.
But after winning the silver due to the technicality, Manzano decided to give away her medal to Siddons in a gesture that touched the home bet.
“I never met anyone who would just willingly give away their medal like that to me,” said Siddons.
Siddons said she was determined to make a podium finish in her hometown after coming up short of a bronze in the 400-meter run and the triple jump. It was a close race until the last 150 meters.
“When I passed the line, I was so, so happy, and proud of myself because I had one more chance to get a medal and try and place," she said.
Then, the bad news.
“I got pulled aside and it really shattered me and broke my heart when I got told that I have been disqualified because I stood on one of the lanes by about two centimeters. It shattered me,” said Siddons.
Little did she know that Manzano came looking for her after the disqualification to offer the silver.
“When she offered it, I teared up and got very emotional and I had just the biggest smile on my face. I didn’t know what to say. I was so shocked and just (thinking) no one would ever do that. She is so nice and such a good sport … I was very emotional and teared up, and wanted to cry and I hugged her for a long time,” said Siddons.
Manzano, who already two golds and two silvers before the 800-m run, said she saw the determination in Siddons’ face to win a medal, prompting her to give the silver to the Australian.
Manzano also felt she didn’t deserve the medal due to her short preparation.
“Nakita ko po ‘yung eagerness niya na manalo sa event na ‘yun,” said Manzano. “Ako po, hindi ko binigay ‘yung 100 percent ko kasi pagod na rin po ako. Alam ko sa sarili ko na hindi ko deserve ‘yung silver at gusto ko pag tinake ko ‘yung medal, gusto ko pinaghirapan ko.”
Manzano, the MVP of the UAAP Season 81 juniors athletics meet, insisted that Siddons accept the medal.
“Nung una, ayaw niya tanggapin kasi na-disqualify ako. Pero sabi ko, okay lang kasi parang remembrance ko dahil para sa akin, ikaw pa rin ‘yung silver. Kung sa kanila hindi, para sa akin silver ka,” said the Palawan native.
“’Yun lang ‘yung event niya na magkaka-medal siya. Naawa ako sa kanya na ‘yun na nga lang ang medal na matatanggap niya, mawawala pa sa kanya… Kung sa kanila man, disqualified siya, para sa akin na kalaban niya, siya pa rin ‘yung silver,” she said.
For Manzano, seeing Siddons’ reaction was like winning a gold.
“Sobrang touched siya kasi sabi niya, ‘yun ang pinakabest thing daw na nagawa ng tao sa kanya ‘yung ganun. Kaya parang ang sarap din sa pakiramdam na nakapagpasaya ka ng ibang tao kasi nagmumukmok siya doon siya sa car nila. Umiiyak siya.
“Nung pinuntahan ko siya, nakita ko ‘yung saya niya. Kaya masaya din ako,” said Manzano.