For SEA Games silver medalist Maurice Sacho Ilustre, swimming is more than just a sport but a family tradition that must be passed on. “It’s a kind of tradition in our family, especially on my dad’s side,” he says. “My cousin, siblings, even my dad and his siblings, we’re all swimmers. I think it’s because my lolo was a lifeguard, and from then on, everyone swam na. It was just up to us if we wanted to do it competitively or as a hobby.”

Preparing for the Games was difficult but rewarding for Sacho. “I was awarded the chance to attend a training camp in Australia three months before the SEA Games,” he says. “There was pressure because I got sent out of the country to prepare for it. I just want to make everyone’s effort worth it.”

Swim shorts, H&M

Being hard on himself was the biggest challenge he needed to overcome in his 16 years of swimming. “During the time we were in Australia, my two teammates realized that I was too hard on myself,” says the former De La Salle University student. “I was lucky to have great SEA Games roommates who helped me enjoy the experience because I was always thinking about the competition.”

The spirit of the Filipino people contributed to Sacho’s victory. “Representing the country and host, sobrang sarap sa feeling. It only happens every 14 years, and I’m so lucky that it happened, me qualifying for the Games. It was an honor and pleasure to compete in the SEA Games, especially since it was my first time,” he shares. “When we were on the block, doon ko dapat ma-feel na kinakabahan ako, pero hindi.”

He owes his silver finish to mentors who have guided him along the way. “I was lucky because I was with two other veterans in that training camp. I had people to look over me, whom I can ask for advice,” he says. “I remember what my coach said the first time I was training. That it’s not up to him for me to be strong, it’s up to me. He told us about repetitions, that it should be a habit for us. What he tells us to do in training, dapat ma-translate namin sa competition.”

His advice to future athletes is to enjoy the journey. “It’s hard and cliché, but you really have to enjoy competition first. You can’t force yourself into something,” Sacho says. “Enjoy it first, and then try to target the Olympics or the SEA Games. I was able to get here because of hard work and passion for the sport.”

 

Writer: John Legaspi
Photographer: Rxandy Capinpin
Art director: Angelo Manalo
Stylist: Poy Villamonte
Grooming: Team MVP
Videographer: Ayens Rivera and JanLo Inocentes
Shot on location: Manila Hotel, Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila
Contact number: (02) 8527 0011
Special thanks to Kim Tan