Grade 10 student rises to top of Asia
Squash rising star Christopher Buraga only had one thing on his young mind when he received his share of the cash incentive for the winning silver medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games: Save it to buy his family a home.
Buraga, then 13 years old, gave the whole amount to his mother for the Cavite property they were looking to buy. To augment the expenditures for the purchase, his monthly salary from the Philippine Sports Commission as a national athlete, amounting to P25,000, was funneled to the property.
“Now we have bought that house,” Buraga, a Grade 10 student at Sergio Osmena High School in Quezon City, said. But for the meantime, Buraga lives at a rented home in Barangay Masambong, also in Quezon City, along with his father, who is a security guard, and his stay-at-home mother.
From there, Buraga, youngest of a brood of four, commutes to Muntinlupa where the national team trains four days a week.
Not just squash
This early, his hard work is paying handsomely. He recently topped the Asian U-17 ranking as of October 2021. His rise in the continent was powered by gold medal finishes in the CMS Junior Open in Malaysia and the Lion City Juniors in Singapore last year.
Before that, he copped silver in the Asian juniors in Macau and placed fifth in the Penang junior open.
But it wasn’t all squash for Buraga, who is also into cycling. He would join his friends in rides to Antipolo, Rizal, and Malolos, Bulacan, in the weekends.
“I try to stay active,” he said in Filipino. “Sometimes I jog so I stay fit. I think my strength in the game is my fitness, decision-making and shot selection.”
The 5-foot-6 Buraga was introduced into the sport by his grandfather, Jaime Ortua, who is also a national coach.
And even with his grandfather’s stature, he didn’t exactly get a special treatment.
“My grandfather would scold me every time I commit mistakes,” Buraga said. “I used that as motivation.”
Buraga said one of the things he developed is not being intimidated by foreign rivals.
“That’s what my lolo taught me,” he said.
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