MANILA — Few weeks from now, BPI Unibanker and emerging bowling juggernaut Alexis Sy will represent the Philippines in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
This is the fifth time that the 29-year-old Cebuana waves the Philippine flag before Southeast Asia’s finest athletes, after bagging four bronze medals from her winning streaks in previous games.
On Friday, Sy was recognized by Ayala Corporation President & CEO Fernando Zobel de Ayala during the WeAreAyala Business Club Cebu Townhall. “The Ayala group is rooting for Alexis Sy as she represents our country in the upcoming SEA Games in Hanoi,” Zobel said. “In our own way, we at Ayala are supporting her bid by providing her the flexibility and financial assistance she needs to train.”
According to Sy, Ayala group’s hurrah boosts her confidence as she embarks on her first major game since the pandemic. “I’m overwhelmed by everyone’s support,” she said. “Everyone–from the top management down to my colleagues–has been cheering me on consistently.”
Love at first strike
Sy, who was recruited by the Philippine Sports Commission in 2007, has been playing for the national bowling team for more than half of her life. But just like all serendipitous stories, it was never part of the plan.
“I originally wanted to be a businessman like my dad. I only tried bowling out of curiosity,” she said. “Growing up kasi, our family would spend weekends watching my Lolo, Dad, and Brother play at the bowling alley. One day, out of boredom, the eight-year-old me just decided to try it.”
Several strikes later, Sy found her new comfort zone in the bowling alley. At that time, however, the idea that she would be carrying the Philippine flag in the coming years was still out of sight.
“My first big competition was held in Singapore. We were inside a stadium with so many people watching from the bleachers that I could barely recognize their faces. From where I was standing, I could only see our countrymen waving Philippine flag,” she recalled.
Unfortunately, in the upcoming SEA Games, a familiar figure that used to be her source of comfort would no longer be cheering with the crowd. Last year, Sy lost her father whom she considered her biggest fan.
“My dad had always been my inspiration. He supported me all the way. I’m sure he would have wanted me to keep going. So here I am, still playing the game he loved.”
Solid support system
Outside the bowling alley, Sy is a Marketing Associate at BPI’s corporate banking group, where she’s been handling big business accounts since 2014.
The proud Unibanker said that while she’s doubling down on her training, she does not compromise her work performance. This, she said, is her way of repaying the company’s consistent support to her athletic career.
“I can say that I’m in the right company now,” she said. “I have always felt their support for me. They acknowledge my responsibilities as a national athlete. So I never shortchange them. During the pandemic, habang walang game, I really focused on my role as a Unibanker.”
Now with the entire Ayala group behind her, Sy feels much more inspired to take her game-winning strike and bring honor to the nation once more.
“This April, I’m moving back to Manila to focus on my training. I’m thankful to Ayala for helping me in this move and for providing me with generous assistance,” she said.
“I really feel blessed to be part of an organization that supports my bid to bring honor to our nation,” she added, with high hopes that the national bowling team would finally bag the elusive gold this year.
Sy and seven others comprise the Philippine Bowling Federation’s lineup for the SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, where a total of six gold medals in the men and women singles, men and women doubles, and men-women team of four will be contested.
Last February, Sy topped the federation’s tryouts (women’s category), with a whopping series average of 208.38. This May, she hopes to end the Philippine bowling team’s decade-long gold medal drought.
Through the Ayala Center for Excellence in Sports, Ayala group also seeks to support national athletes who will represent the country at the 2022 Asian Games and the 2024 Olympics.
National athletes who will qualify for the recently launched #AtletangAyala program will receive full-salaried employment opportunities at part-time hours. They will also have free access to the world-class training facilities of the Ayala Vermosa Sports Hub as well as scholarship opportunities at De La Salle University.
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