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Jumping over barriers with obstacle course racing

American Ninja Warrior, the obstacle course television show, has garnered massive popularity over the past decade, sparking interest in the ever-growing sport of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) over the last few years. The Filipino’s talent has proven that they can make it big in the sport and be the foundation for OCR’s immense potential.

Competitors in the country have achieved great success already, as OCR continues to grow and push the boundaries of how big it can become. Indeed, the sport is gradually becoming a sensation and one need not look further than to Kaizen Dela Serna (I, BS-ENT), the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games Gold Medalist in OCR.

New obstacles

Dela Serna, a former gymnast, was able to use her athletic background to pursue OCR. She shares, “I started training in gymnastics, and the sport became my passion at that time. However, I wasn’t able to accomplish my goal of competing in the Southeast Asian Games because I fell out of love with the sport.” Seeking out where she can hone her skills elsewhere, Dela Serna turned to OCR, where she learned her strengths and weaknesses physically and mentally.

Dela Serna explains that training can be rigorous, “We work on our full body, but [we] focus on upper body strength, and [our] training is done almost everyday.” The pandemic has made it challenging as well as she details, “It was difficult for me to adjust since we usually train with obstacles. I also like training with the team rather than on my own so when the pandemic started, I had to find ways to enjoy training on my own.” 

However, Dela Serna always stays prepared and excited for any upcoming competitions she has. 

Succeedingly, Dela Serna was able to reach the finals of the UNAA World Championships in Las Vegas. Whilst she was supposed to fly out to Russia right after, Dela Serna decided to stay in the US to tour around the country since the Arena Ninja World Championships in Moscow was unfortunately postponed.

Empowering oneself 

Admitting that there are times wherein she loses motivation to train, Dela Serna emphasizes her newly developed habits in order to keep her going, “I had to be disciplined because there were times that I felt lazy to train, but I had to keep training so that I could reach my goal.” 

Women empowerment in sports is one of the vital values she advocates for, saying that it plays an integral role in developing an athlete’s characteristics. Dela Serna is part of Fearless Filipinas, a book that features the different lives and experiences of twelve women who excel in their respective fields. Sharing their own stories that promote courage and positivity, it serves as a standpoint that even women are capable of achieving greatness. “It allows them to have opportunities to achieve their goals and break barriers. Through sports, these women learn how to remain resilient and persevering despite the many challenges they encounter,” Dela Serna says.

She also specifies that physical and biological characteristics will not stop women from pushing themselves beyond excellence. Using different platforms to raise awareness, encouraging others to speak up, and proving that women are capable of achieving new things, Dela Serna highlights, “Our goals, knowledge, and voice are so powerful. We should use those to inspire others.” 

A promising future 

Dela Serna shares her experiences back when she started, “I was a beginner in all my sports, and there were times I would be scared to try new skills. We all start somewhere. For me, it’s better to fail rather than regretting that you didn’t try it.” Committing errors is part of the process, and it should not hinder one from improving, “Learn from your mistakes since it allows you to be stronger and become better humans,” she adds. 

All athletes have their own pace, and Dela Serna stands by this. “Don’t mind those who say ‘you can’t really do it’, as long as you are passionate about what you’re doing,” she reminds. The vast world of sports can allow people and the youth to discover new interests, stepping out of their comfort zones. Embodying the values of confidence and tenacity future OCR athletes to bring prominence to the sport.

By Koby del Rosario

By Tana Melgar

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