An alumna of the Silliman University (SU) School of Basic Education is set to compete in the badminton women’s doubles category during the Rio Olympics which starts Aug. 5.
Paula Lynn Obañana studied in SU from early childhood to high school. She then graduated from De La Salle University under a sports scholarship before migrating to the United States with her family in 2006.
According to Obañana, “Dumaguete City, especially [SU], has played a vital role in [her] career as an athlete.” It was in SU where she started playing badminton after Manolito Saldivar II, assistant professor of the physical education department, discovered her talent.
Saldivar started training Obañana when she was 10 years old until she graduated from high school in 2002. Terry Longstaff, a former English national badminton player and coach, also trained Obañana alongside Saldivar from 1999-2000.
On her first competition, she bagged a gold medal in the national level after defeating the 4-time defending champion. More victories followed in competitions she joined such as the Southeast Asian Games, Arafura Games, and the University Athletic Association of the Philippine Games.
“Terry and I used to call [Paula] a ‘reluctant champion.’ [She] got what every Olympian badminton player possesses…Now [she] got what everybody is dreaming of. Making it to the Olympics [already makes her] a winner. Having a medal is just a bonus,” Saldivar said.
To all aspiring badminton players, Saldivar reminds that “life keeps on going, so go with it. Don’t stop. Don’t quit. Just keep going. Somehow, someday, you will get what you aspire and dream of in life.”
Obañana and her doubles partner, Eva Lee, have competed and won in several international tournaments before qualifying for the Olympics. Both of them undergo a daily 6-hour intensive physical, mental, psychological, and nutritional training in preparation for the competition.
“Have faith in yourself but above all don’t forget GOD who is the Creator and the Giver of our talent. He is always there to guide you if you believe in yourself,” Obañana advised athletes who are also aspiring to be in the Olympics.
Obañana joins the list of other SU alumni who have competed in the Olympics. They are Jennifer Chan, Mark Javier, Jose Ravello, Simeon Toribio, and Lisa Ygnalaga.