Grade 5 student Maria Marla Panelo of Holy Trinity University (HTU) has only been training in swimming for two years, but she already brought home two gold medals from the recently concluded Mimaropa Regional Athletic Association (MRAA) Meet in Oriental Mindoro.

Marla secured her gold medals in the 200m Individual Medley and 4x100m Medley Relay events of the MRAA, which kicked off in Oriental Mindoro on May 23. A member of the Puerto Princesa Hammerhead Shark Swimming Team, she also won silver medals in the 100m Backstroke and 4x100m Freestyle Relay, and a bronze in the 100m Breaststroke.

According to her father, Jeff Panelo, Marla is diligent in her training. While she only won silver medals in the city meet last year, she now proudly holds gold, much to their delight.

“Magaling at matiyaga rin talaga yung mga coaches namin. Tutok na tutok sa mga bata. Pag-alis nila dito, Rank #6 siya sa elementary girls. Pero after niyan, dahil sa mga medal niya, nag-first na siya sa Puerto Princesa City Elementary Girls,” Jeff said.

(Our coaches are also excellent and dedicated. They focus entirely on the children. When they left, she was ranked #6 in elementary girls. But after her recent achievements, she’s now at the top spot in the Puerto Princesa City Elementary Girls division.)

His constant reminder to Marla is that success comes through training, diligence, and hard work.

Jeff hopes that Marla will once again represent Puerto Princesa City next year.