For years the most cherished dream of Philippine sports is to capture its very first Olympic gold medal.
For the record, the Philippines has been competing in the prestigious Olympic Games since 1924. Its highest treasure are two silver medals from boxing, courtesy of Anthony Villanueva in the 1960 Tokyo Olympics and Mansueto Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Based on solid empirical data, the country has so far claimed nine medals in the Olympics, five of them are from boxing.
Jose Villanueva won bronze in the1932 Los Angeles Games, Anthony Villanueva won silver in 1964 in Tokyo, Leopoldo Serrantes won bronze in 1988 in Seoul, Roel Velasco won bronze in 1992 in Barcelona and Mansueto Velasco won silver in 1996 in Atlanta.
Obviously, our boxers are so close to achieving the ultimate goal of ending the country’s search for that elusive gold medal.
Unfortunately, after Velasco’s silver medal-finish, it was all downhill. Filipino boxers have failed to make a podium finish and have gone home with fat eggs from the quadrennial Games.
In fact, in the last London edition, and for the fourth Olympics in a row, Filipino athletes were unable to take home a medal of any color for the country.
But still, the record should be enough proof that if and when the country finally gets around to win the gold medal, it would come from the Filipino fist. In other words, boxing has the most realistic shot at the Olympic gold.
And so if the country really intends to turn that into reality in the coming 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the sport should receive all the help it can get, particularly from the government.
It should see to it that the ldeadership of the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) come up with a sustained grassroots development program for amateur boxing that would ensure the highest caliber of training for boxers. This must guarantee the athletes’ constant exposure to local, regional and international competitions.
The government must also make the pursuit of amateur boxing more financially rewarding to attract new talents to the sport. The reason why many talented amateur boxers are eager to turn professional is because professional boxing is more financially lucrative than its amateur counterpart.
Between now and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, it will take a solid program, knowledge, talent and dedication to realize an Olympic dream. Philippine amateur boxing is the key to ending its long-running search for the Olympic gold so it should receive all the help it can get.