Jessel Lumapas on Her Sprint to The Philippine National Team

Track Star Jessel Lumapas on Her Sprint From The Playground to The Philippine National Team

Jessel wears a HELMUT LANG tank top. Photographed by Mark Nicdao for the July 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines.

Despite obstacles on her path, Track and Field athlete Jessel Lumapas forges on, one foot in front of the other, gathering courage from faith.

Jessel Lumapas fell into sports nearly by accident—since she was such an active child, playing tag with her preferred playmates, the boys, her school principal challenged her to channel all that energy onto the track instead. “They made me joinoh, go run over there! So I ran. Until I was surprised that, huh? I won already?” she narrates in Filipino, bemused.

After a slight detour where she studied taekwondo, she once again found herself on the track team and eventually, the national team when she was just 18. “My first SEA Games at Clark was my first time to wear a two-piece,” she says in Filipino. “I was embarrassed, I couldn’t focus on my run. And then, it was like everything in my life was happening so suddenly. I was shocked, having to just face all that God was giving me.”

Another thing that surprised her: their team breaking the national record for the women’s 4×400 meter relay at last year’s SEA Games. “My teammates were celebrating, but I was frozen. Huh, Philippine record? All the difficulty from training, the breakdown days… it felt so good to see it all finally bear fruit.”

As sweet as victory is, the path towards it is often bitter and sour. Like any other journey, Jessel’s path is one with struggles, dictated by her circumstances. “I wanted to perform well. I wanted to give my best. But the opportunity that I was given was limited,” she says. Despite these obstacles, she continues, one foot in front of the other, gathering courage from faith. On days when she can’t find her pace, she grabs her rosary and prays. “I talk to God like, ‘Lord, whatever it is that I feel, thank you. You’re doing this for me so I can learn and be stronger.”

On the field, she leaves all these burdens behind. “You forget about all your problems. I think about training, I don’t think about anything else,” she says. “When I start, I feel relaxed in my muscles.” In her spare time, she also enjoys hiking and reading John Maxwell’s books.

For other athletes who are sprinting to their dreams, she advises them to keep looking ahead: “Always look at the future,” she says. “Don’t go [down] the wrong path, because you might fall.”

This month, Vogue Philippines pays tribute to stories of grit, determination, and the pursuit of excellence. Below, meet more of the athletes who continue to shatter the glass ceiling of sports.


Vogue Philippines: July 2024 Issue

By BIANCA CUSTODIO, NANA CARAGAY, PATRICIA VILLORIA Photographs by MARK NICDAO Beauty Editor JOYCE OREÑA Fashion Director PAM QUIÑONES. Stylists: David Milan, Steven Coralde of Qurator Studio. Makeup: Angeline dela Cruz, Bea Mocorro, Janica Cleto, and Japeth Purog of Estée Lauder Philippines, Nadynne Esguerra. Hair: JA Feliciano and Kyle Velasco, Jessica Riva and Noel Muncada of Toni&Guy Philippines, Mong Amado. Art Director: Jann Pascua. Producer: Anz Hizon. Bookings Associate: Bianca Zaragoza. Beauty Writer: Bianca Custodio. Nails: Extraordinail. Photographer’s Assistants: Arsan Sulser Hofileña, Crisaldo Soco, John Phillip Nicdao, Villie James Bautista. Stylist’s Assistants: Geno Karlo, Kyla Uy, Ticia Almazan. Shot on location at Balay Kobo and Vogue Studios.
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