Miguel Adrian Carlos, 12, of Puerto Princesa City, is this year's most bemedaled athlete in the Batang Pinoy 2022. | Photo from Ramil Carlos

Miguel Adrian Carlos of Puerto Princesa City was named “Most Medaled Athlete” at the recently concluded Batang Pinoy 2023 after winning seven gold medals in the boys’ under-13 years old 20-meter, 25-meter, 30-meter, 40-meter, FITA round, Olympic round, and mixed team events.

Miguel, 12, a Special Program for the Arts student at Palawan National School (PNS), joined the archery team of the delegation sent to compete in the Batang Pinoy 2022 National Championships in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, from December 17 to 21.

His gold medals contributed to Puerto Princesa’s 18-medal haul at the youth games for athletes under 15 years old. The city earned the sixteenth-best medal tally in the Batang Pinoy competition.

Miguel’s father, Ramil, who is also his coach, told Palawan News that he started playing the sport when he was only five years old. His inspiration was his older brother Nathaniel Andrei, who in 2019 won six silver medals in the same youth competition hosted by the city.

Ramil Carlos with his son Miguel.

“At the early age of five years old, gusto na niyang i-imitate yong kuya niya. Gaya gaya sa pagsho-shoot, so binilhan ko siya ng pambata na bow—kung ano yong kaya niya lang para mahila niya. Ginagaya niya yong kuya niya, nagsho-shoot-shoot sa bahay. Nagsho-shoot din siya sa range pero dahil bata, palaro laro lang,” this is how Miguel got started, according to him.

In fifth grade, before the pandemic, Ramil observed his son’s desire to keep playing archery. His training equipment, however, was inherited from his older brother before he was given something more durable.

“Noong nagseseryoso na siya, binilhan ko na siya ng ano—pero most of his equipment were hand-me-downs, mga pinaglumaan ng kuya niya. Syempre sa archery, may kamahalan, ang mga gamit kasi,” he added.

When the City Sports Office (CSO) opened a tryout for archers for the Batang Pinoy, Miguel took part and ultimately qualified as one of the best, even against competitors outside his bracket.

His coach-father said that although there were classes, Miguel started training with the others who qualified to become members of the archery team.

Miguel, who enjoys photography and video editing in his spare time, struggled to prepare for Batang Pinoy, but he refused to give up in order to win not only for himself but also for his team.

“May school di ba? Kaya hati talaga ang oras, pero makikita mo doon sa bata na pursigido siya. Kahit marami siyang mga requirements sa school, talagang pinipilit niya na makapag training kahit mga one hour lang,” he said.

The national championships marked Miguel’s first competition in person, but he had already achieved success in events that were virtually held throughout the pandemic. His coach-father said he never finished lower than first place in his age group.

Miguel would learn in these situations that the greatest strength of archery is also its greatest weakness. The sport’s emphasis on the target makes it simple to comprehend: the closer an arrow hits to the center, the better the result, providing immediate feedback.

Ramil said this is where the difficulty lies. Like many archers, Miguel receives immediate feedback on each shot that he takes while training. However, archers are not evaluated based on their performance on the scoresheet during training. The objective is not to triumph; rather, it is to get better.

Miguel’s team training used programs that emphasized strength, control, and focus.

“Same sa lahat ng bata na tinuturuan ko, dapat tulog ng maaga, carbo-loading muna sa umpisa kasi kailangang mag-develop ng muscle, and then nag-undergo sila ng mga one month na conditioning.”

“More on exercises lang, wala munang shoot. For their exercises, push ups, then bow drills,” he said, explaining that in archery, a person’s size is irrelevant; rather, consistent practice is what makes the difference in performance.

According to Ramil, he waited a little while before letting Miguel know that he had won his first gold medal because he did not want him to become overconfident about his achievement.

It was after Miguel won his second gold that he decided to tell him.

“No pressure, just enjoy. Kasi sa archery ang kalaban natin yong sarili natin, hindi naman talaga yong competitor mo. If ever na hindi mo na control ang sarili mo, or natakot ka, hindi ka makakapag focus,” he said.

“Kung may medal, bonus na yon. At least, naging masaya ka,” he added.

Ramil said that Miguel would continue to take part in various archery competitions in the future. The only barrier is that many involved in the sport do not receive the necessary support due to a lack of funds.