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Thursday, January 17, 2019 ARCHIVES  |  SEARCH  |  POST ADS  |  ADVERTISE  |  SUBSCRIBE   |  LOGIN   |  CONTACT US

Saving grace for Philippines

Manila Diary by JULIET SIMBRE

As expected, the Filipino athletes gallantly fought through adversities and gave their best in the recently concluded Rio Olympics. Unfortunately, their best wasn’t good enough.

No question about it, our athletes showed heart despite the odds being stacked against them right from the start. However, they could only do so much against far superior opponents.

But thanks to weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, she finally ended the Philippines’ 20-year Olympic medal drought that stretched all the way back to 1996.

The three-time Olympian captured a historic silver medal at the women’s 53-kg weightlifting competition, becoming the first Filipino to win a medal since boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco’s similar podium finish in the 1996 Atlanta edition. 

Likewise, the Zamboanga-born made history by becoming the first Filipino woman to win an Olympic medal and also the first medal winner to hail from Mindanao.

The Philippines sent a 13-member delegation to Rio, with representation in table tennis, golf, track and field, women’s marathon, swimming, boxing, weightlifting, taekwondo and judo. However, the Filipino athletes bowed out of contention one after the other.

So truly the 25-year-old Filipina’s podium finish on such a global stage brings pride and honor to the whole country.

For ending the two-decade medal futility of the Philippines in the Olympics, she, indeed, symbolizes the strength, prowess and determination that the Filipino shows in any challenges.

Well, the bitter reality is that the Philippines has not won an Olympic gold since first competing in the Games in 1924. And so if the country really intends to turn its dream of winning its first Olympic gold into reality in the next 2020 Tokyo edition, then it should receive all the help it can get, particularly from the government.

Most feel the government is partly to blame for the country’s chronic failures to end its gold medal drought in the Olympics. It’s a given, budgetary constraints, in particular the lack of government support, remain the main problem in the development of sports in this country.

In fact, poor showings by Filipino athletes in major competitions were a result of lack of foreign exposures and inadequate training because of insufficient budget compounded by the long-time bickering of sports officials.

Whatever the reasons that sealed the fate of the Filipinos’ campaign, our sports officials should go back — again — to the drawing board, review the effectiveness and efficiency of our sports development programs, and plan the future of Philippine sports.

It would take a solid and well-funded sports development program by the government, through the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) – the country’s sports-funding agency – to realize a dream of ranking the Philippines among the world’s best in sports.

Funding support from private sectors is also important. It would encourage athletes to give their best in winning medals, most particularly in the Olympics.

However, it would need more than just money to fulfill a long-term goal towards uplifting Philippine sports and achieving excellence in the future.

Filipino athletes are not short on passion and dedication, and neither do they lack talent. They only have to be provided with the necessary tools and skills when they compete abroad, and surely they will bring home the bacon.

With proper training, right attitude, proper nutrition and up-to-date techniques through proper exposure abroad, our athletes can finally break the country’s gold medal jinx hopefully in the next Olympics in Tokyo.

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