A breath of fresh air
After an unending stream of bad news since the start of the COVID pandemic, the victory of Yuka Saso in the US Women’s Open provides a much needed breath of fresh air in the Philippines.
The 19-year-old Filipino-Japanese golfer’s historic feat also raises hopes that the Philippines might finally bag an elusive gold medal in the Olympics – if the Games push through this year in Tokyo despite the COVID pandemic.
Saso first grabbed national attention at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, wherein she bagged two gold medals. The next year she turned pro. Last year despite the pandemic, she won her first tournament sponsored by the Japan Ladies’ Professional Golf Association. Saso’s journey to glory in the US Women’s Open in San Francisco last Sunday shows the dedication and discipline needed for excelling in international sports.
As early as age eight, Saso had reportedly expressed interest in becoming a top-ranked player. Her Japanese father Masakazu then moved his Filipina wife and their children back to the Philippines, where the cost of living including playing golf is cheaper. The father laid out a grueling training schedule for his daughter. Before beginning her golf swings, Saso would start her day with a run at 5:30 a.m. followed by 10 sets of 50- and 100-meter sprints while wearing two-kilogram weights. After 30 minutes of repetitive side step jumping, the golf training would start.
Her defeat of Japanese golfer Nasa Hataoka in the US Women’s Open boosted Saso’s place in the Rolex Rankings from 40th to ninth. Her victory should also provide inspiration to other aspiring athletes in the Philippines. With rigorous training, discipline, sufficient resources and an abiding love of the chosen field, Filipinos can excel in international sports.