LONDON-- Rene Herrera doesn’t mind being told that his chance in the 5,000-meter run is as grey as the London weather in springtime.
Actually, the reed-thin Herrera will be the first to say that it’s mission impossible for him when he makes his Olympics debut on August 8.
"Mabigat talaga, mabigat,’’ said Herrera, smiling as he left in a hurry to board a car that would take him and other Filipino athletes, coaches, and officials to a dinner tendered by Team Philippines supporter Bank of Philippine Islands on Tuesday.
Don’t blame him for that since Herrera is just being honest about his chances, given that his event is teeming with tough runners from African countries led by Kenya, the home of great long-distance runners.
But he takes pride in the fact that he’s the only runner from Southeast Asia to make it to the starting cast of 50.
‘’Sa Southeast Asia, ako lang ang nakasali," said Herrera, who won this event five times in the Southeast Asian Games in a shining feat that made him one of the best ever track and field athletes to grace the SEA Games scene.
He’s coming off a silver-medal finish in the same event during the Hong Kong inter-city meet where he timed 15 minutes and 1.73 seconds, way, way off the Olympic winning time of 12:57.82 by Kenya’s Kenenisa Beyeche in Beijing.
Herrera will head out of the new Olympic Stadium track singing the blues. But he’ll go back to Manila richer by around P26,000, the amount he won in a raffle draw during the BPI dinner.
Since BMX rider Danny Caluag and weighlifter Hidilyn Diaz were the only other athletes in attendance, they automatically won the two runner-up prizes ofsome P24,000 each.
"Buti sumama ako sa dinner. Sayang din," he said.