When it comes to the world of sports, it isn’t a secret that there is no shortage of Filipino talent, only a lack of opportunity. But on the off chance our own are given the chance to shine, they can prove that they deserve a spot alongside the world’s brightest athletes.
Take for example Laurynne del Mundo Cabardo, an 11-year-old Filipina who currently resides in Sweden. The table tennis talent was recently featured with Usain Bolt in a campaign for Allianz Direct, the official insurance partner of the Olympics.
In the commercial, ‘future sports heroes’ challenge the 34-year-old Jamaican Sprinter in their respective fields, with Cabardo appearing as the first challenger. Bolt gets his butt handed to him, while Cabardo proudly boasts ‘I’m going to win gold in 2028!’
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We caught up with Laurynne Cabardo about her experience working with Usain Bolt, as well as a glimpse into her promising future.
How long have you been playing table tennis? How did you get into the sport?
I’ve only been playing for almost 2 years now. I first played table tennis at the schoolyard. I wanted to prove to the boys that girls can be good at table tennis too.
Later on, I asked my dad about the sport. He told me that he was good at it when he was young too.
What are your most notable wins in the sport so far?
I have most recently won in the Ängby Club Masters tournament. I won first place for the under 19 years old category for girls as well as the under 13 years old category.
Were you born in Sweden?
I was born in the Philippines! My family and I moved here when I was 2 years old.
How did the collab with Usain Bolt happen? How was the experience?
My coach, Jessica Larsson, was approached by the casting agency. They were looking for young athletes who were ‘great at their sports but have great personalities too’. She thought I was perfect for the role and referred me.
I still had the audition. When I got the part, I was only given a few days to fly to Riga, Latvia for the shoot.
Usain was cool! He was one of my idols so I was nervous. But I calmed down because he was nice and made me feel comfortable. He laughs a lot and has this deep voice.
Later he told me I’m ‘good at table tennis’. Usain sort of knew how to play and tried his best, but like in the advert, he was no match for me.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been selected to join the Swedish Youth National Team training camp this July. I’m preparing to be at my top form because of the long hours of training and physical endurance needed.
I’m excited to meet the national coaches and the best players in Sweden, who are mostly several years older and have been training in the sport for much longer.
Tournaments have only been recently allowed in Sweden. Starting in August, I’ll be joining some around the country and maybe some international competitions as well.