For a long time coming, I have wanted to include the Great Mario Castro. In Legends of Track and Field. Arguably a few other coaches in our 40-year participation at the SEA Games which began in 1977 has proven as much, even more so to be said the Long Distance.
It shows a coach of this caliber who solely would like to Coach his athletes and keep out of the politics of the PATAFA. I came to have a great amount of respect for coach Mario and his legacy.
Not much is written on the quiet coach. Who would train his athletes in the rain sometimes
with his Umbrella and trademark raincoat remotely at the Baguio Teacher’s camp?
Mario Castro SEA Games Champion
Mario Castro was born 25 August 1960.Castro one of the later batch of Gintong Alay athletes according to Gintong Alay Head Coach Tony Benson.
Castro was coached by the Late Rosito Andaya.
He set his career-best times of 14:44.81 (5000m) on 2 June 1984. And 30.34.61 (10,000m) on 27th of May 1984 in Manila at the National Championships. This mark stood as the National Record until his own athlete Eduardo Buenavista started breaking it nearly 20 years later.
Leading up to the 1985 SEA Games Castro won the Malaysian Medka Games in the 10,000m.
It was in 1985 in Bangkok that Castro won his only SEA Games Gold in the 10,000m Run timing 30:51.8. It was the third consecutive SEA Games the Philippines had won the title 1981 David Carmelo and 1983 Leonardo Ilut. And Castro was the only Filipino in the 7 man race. He also finished 5th in the 5000m that year won by Hector Begeo, timing 15:12.63.
In 1987 Castro would lose his title to Edwardus Nabunome of Indonesia who went on to win the next 3 SEA Games. He did not medal in the 10,000m and came 4th in the 5000m in 15:25.13.
Castro also had a go at the Steeple Chase clocking his PB of 9:15.59 at Kuala Lumpur on 25th August 1989 and gaining as a Silver medal. He was fourth again in the 5000m in 15:00.09 with Nabubome winning the race. This was to be his last SEA Games as he went on to focus on Coaching.
Castro worked with or directly coached a lot of Athletes who became SEA Games Champions. A lot of them are now Legends in their own right. It seemed not right for me that Mario Castro has been added this late as a legend. However, I had so little info on him this write up may not give him the recognition he truly deserves.
At the core of his Program at SEA Games was the versatile Eduardo ‘Bertek’ Buenavista who won Golds in 5,000m (2001), 10,000m (2003), Marathon (2009) and Steeple Chase (2001) and also the Asian Championships Bronze Medal in the 10,000m in Manila in 2003, and was a 2004 Olympian in Athens.
Rene Herrera won 5 Consecutive Golds in the Steeple Chase 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011. Begeo (coached by Benson) had won 6 but not consecutive. Rene went to the 2012 Olympics in London.
Christabel Martes who had 2 SEA Games titles in the Marathon 2001 and 2005. Martes also hit a good enough time to go to One Olympic Games but was not included int he final lineup.
Roy Vence and Allan Ballester the 2001 and 2003 SEA Games Champions in the Marathon.
That is a total of 13 Gold Medals that can be directly attributed to Coach Mario.
As well as this less consider his assistance to coach Noel George ‘Jojo’ Posadas in helping coach Jhoann Banayag and Mercidita Manipol who also became SEA Games Champions.
And working with Coach Ojon Artiaga with Christopher Ulboc in his two SEA Games titles in 2013 and 2015 Steeples.
A decade later Castro athletes still hold the records in the 5000, 10000, Marathon for Men’s and 10,000 Women’s.
It’s of interest to note that when Mario was removed as coach by PATAFA. Presumably for not attending coaches meetings and other reasons. That the Philippines now fails to win any medal in Mens Marathon. From 1997 to 2013 (except 1999 when no Marathon was held) we had a medal every year in the Men’s Marathon. In 2015 both Poliquit and Buenavista Did not finish. And in 2017 Jesson Agravante did not finish. We used to have medaled in the 5000 and 10,000 but now we have no entries in these events. It’s important to note despite the fact the strength of our South East Asian rivals has dropped.
Andrew is an ATFS Statiscian in Athletics with a wide range of knowledge in measurable sports. He has worked as a PSC Consultant and Research Assistant from 2013-2015, Consultant and Sprint Coach at Zamboanga Sports Academy from 2015-2017. And is current editor and chief of Pinoyathletics.info, and has recently done consultancy work for Ayala Corp evaluating the Track and Field Program. Currently, he is coaches Sprints, Middle and Jump events he is working towards his Level 3 Athletics Australia Coaching Certification in Sprints and Hurdles.
He can be contacted on [email protected]