Asiad like a Masters debut for POC’s Vargas
Were our national athletes underfed or poorly prepared during the lengthy failed reign of Peping Cojuangco as president of the Philippine Olympic Committee?
Only the athletes themselves can provide the answer, although the intriguing rush to get ready and catch the bus to this year’s Asian Games in Indonesia should also help trace how, where and why top national sports leaders, previously headed by Cojuangco, have missed and faltered.
The forthcoming Asiad could also provide rare moments to shine and make up for the dismal national delegation performance in Incheon four years ago.
It’s a tough task but, for starters, the Philippine Sports Commission has ordered a 24-hour feeding service for all national athletes.
Add to that the fact that PSC Chair William Ramirez has spearheaded massive preparations, while new POC chair Bambol Tolentino hammered hard to harness the support of all national sports associations, no matter how late.
Ramirez was overheard as warning the Asiad clock is ticking fast. It’s indeed a lot closer than we think.
All eyes will be on new POC president Ricky Vargas who has been caught in a tricky and testy situation, though no fault of his own.
For Vargas, it would be like appearing in his first Masters tournament, with no solid idea of what’s waiting out there.
He can’t be expected to readily produce wonders but, at the same time, Vargas cannot afford to go bogey-bogey and fumble in his opening round.
There are daunting obstacles, but there are also bright possibilities, like in athletics.
Vargas may have to turn to his boxers, he happens to head the Alliances of Boxing Associations in the
Philippines (Abap), which returned without a single gold from the last Asiad.
The boxers have been holed up in Baguio, working day and night.
It will all depend on how coaches and trainers will utilize the remaining short period to upgrade and be ready against tested warriors, mainly from the former Soviet states like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
In the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the boxing team played silly and flat, with its lone entry, Rogen Ladon, freezing and bombing out in his first round assignment.
There’s nothing clear on what steps have been taken, although a lead member of the national coaching staff said they plan to venture into more foreign tournaments to toughen up for the Asiad.
Of course, Vargas has also been quoted as saying the main goal of his fresh tenure in the POC is to win the Philippines first Olympic gold medal.
It’s truly a noble goal but Vargas must be reminded that winning the first Olympic gold medal for the country can’t be a cure at all.
Now is the time to overhaul and change a prior system that had been mired in mediocrity, no thanks to neglect, misdirection, greed and selfishness of those who used their office as a ticket to all-expenses excursions to the Olympics and various other foreign tournaments.
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