Army Lieutenant Colonel Ricarte “Ric” Dayata was at the peak of his triathlon performance when he figured in a life-changing accident that almost cost his life and career. But with faith in God and support from his family, relatives, and friends, he was able to bounce back from the accident.
As a matter of fact, three years after his accident, Ric was able to participate in Ironman Philippines 2018, a long-distance triathlon race, consisting of a 3.8-km open water swim, 180-km bike, and a 42-km marathon.
“It was not my fastest, but the fact that I raced again after my accident was a great achievement… With my spine injury, I still managed to finish the race in 12 hours, 51 minutes, faster than other non-injured athletes,” Ric tells My Pope Philippines.
For Ric, to finish an Ironman race is every triathlete’s ultimate goal as it is considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world. (Read: These Pinoy Athletes Will Headline the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics)
Even as an active Army soldier, Ric won races in multisport such as triathlon, duathlon, marathon, and athletics. He also prepared himself to join the local elite group of triathletes because of the high level of fitness and skills he developed.
“Despite being an Army officer with lots of workloads in the office and field, I still managed my time efficiently in order to balance my training requirements, work, and family,” Ric says.
“My training experiences in the Philippine Military Academy, Scout Ranger, and United States Army Ranger Courses greatly helped me develop a winning attitude,” he adds. (Read: Triathlete Vanj Endaya Shares Her Fitness Routine Amid Lockdown)
Ric’s most memorable achievements include Bohol Timex 226 Triathlon in 2011 where he placed 5th overall and 2nd in his age group; Ironman 70.3 Subic in 2015 where he placed 3rd in his age group and the last race before his accident; and AFP-PNP Olympics in 2011, 2012, 2014 where he won in the officer’s category.
That Fateful Accident
Unfortunately, Ric’s run had to be put on hold after he had an accident on September 26, 2015, during the Triathlon event of the 2015 AFP-PNP-PCG (Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police-Philippine Coast Guard) in Ternate, Cavite.
Ric was in the lead during the bike leg when the accident happened about 2 kms away from the turning point. (Read: Pinay Teen Golfer Yuka Saso Wins US Open)
“My speed during the crash was around 50 KPH. I lost control in the sharp curve downhill and I bumped into the wall of the hill on the left side of the road,” he Recalls.
“The next thing I remember, I was lying beside the road, conscious, trying to get back on my bike and continue the race but I can’t move my right leg and both of my arms… I was in great pain that I can’t imagine,” Ric adds.
After a series of tests including X-rays, CT scans, and MRI, Ric was diagnosed with an injured spinal cord in his C6 Spine. He was advised to undergo a surgery called Laminectomy, which means his C6 spine will be removed and they will have to put two parallel rods locked by six screws.
Road to Recovery
After surgery, Ric underwent physical therapy sessions three times a week and occupational therapy sessions twice a week, and other exercises and therapy sessions to which he did religiously. (Read: 28yo Cebuano Priest Shares Healing Journey From a Rare Disease)
“I realized that the road to recovery was not that easy. During my PT session, I started learning how to walk again because my right leg got paralyzed. I asked the doctor if I can walk again and he said, yes. That motivated me that I can walk again and somehow minimized the physical and emotional damage to myself,” recalls Ric.
“I didn’t lose hope, I remained composed and focused on my daily recovery objectives. As I religiously perform my daily recovery activities in my PT and OT sessions, I felt the improvement in my overall movement especially my right leg,” he adds.
Advice to People
Ric believes that everything happened for a reason. “Whatever it is, only God knows and He is in control. Trust in Him.” (Read: Book About 17yo Servant of God, Darwin Ramos, Now Available)
He credited his wife, children, relatives, and friends who provided him support for his recovery. Even the Philippine Army recognized his effort as an athlete and provided financial support for his hospitalization.
“Today, as I focus on my designation as Battalion Commander of a Scout Ranger Battalion, I still include my multisport workout during my free time… I firmly believe that physical fitness is the most important characteristic of an effective and efficient leader.”