‘Good luck,’ says Palace to 3 remaining Filipino OlympiansBy Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – “Good luck!”
This was Malacañang’s message to the remaining three of the 11-man Philippine contingent to the London Olympic Games following the one-point defeat of boxer Mark Barriga to Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan on Saturday, which dashed to pieces the hopes of the Filipino nation for a gold medal.
The Palace was not waving the white flag yet.
“But everybody is still hoping for something (to come) out of our Filipino contingent. And we, of course, until now, we still wish them luck. We still wish them well,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, when interviewed Sunday by Radyo ng Bayan.
Valte praised Barriga’s determination to reach medal level.
“He fought valiantly and, for a moment, we were all watching him and we were essentially (hopeful). I’d like to say that even if he didn’t … advance, he fought valiantly—same with all our other athletes,” said Valte.
She said that three more athletes were “still in the running,” referring to Marestella Torres (women’s long jump on Aug. 7), Rene Herrera (5000m run on Aug. 8) and Daniel Caluag (men’s BMX racing on Aug. 8).
Told in the radio interview that Olympic Games were exact science, and not based on pure luck, Valte said: “We’ll leave that to our sports agencies (to address).”
She also begged off from commenting on calls for the Palace to initiate a revamp of the sports sector, including proposals that both the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) be run by former Olympians, not politicians or businessmen.
She did repeat President Benigno Aquino III’s wish for the sports sector.
“The President has already made known his position that given the limited resources that we have, we should be identifying certain fields where we have potential and where we’ve had success already,” said Valte.
When asked if the POC had a robust program to scout, train and prepare athletes from tender age, she said: “I will have to defer to our sports agencies to be the ones to comment on that.”
The same answer was given when asked about what brought about the dismal state of Rizal Stadium in Manila, mirroring what could very well be the performance of those at the helm of the country’s numerous sports associations.
Senator Gregorio Honasan is poised to ask the various committees in the Senate dealing with amateur sports competitiveness and youth relations to push for a top-to-bottom revamp of the country’s sports programs.
“The revamp, overhaul, or sports performance audit must address long term sports policy, and its development program, mission and organization,” said Honasan in a phone interview.
The senator wanted the sports management “insulated from politics,” and that sports associations should prioritize “long term development funding and sustainability.” He said that they should “not be personality-driven … if we are serious (in correcting the maladies in sports).”
Honasan pointed out that the most important ingredient of a sports program were: athletes, coaches, trainers; basic infrastructure facilities; support for athlete’s nutrition, equipment and exposure to competitive experience; public support and national pride; and incentives for athletes to train hard and excel.
In the House of Representatives, Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara will also seek an immediate revamp and assessment of the performance of the national athletes and sports officials.
He said revamps in the sports sector should be pursued.
“After our athletes return from London, there should be a review and post-mortem report on the country’s performance, with a view to instituting reforms in the sports sector,” said Angara, chair of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education.
The country has been faring badly in both the Olympics and Asian Games.
The last time a Filipino won a silver medal was at the Atlanta Games in 1996 via boxer Mansueto Velasco Jr.
The country bagged bronze medals in boxing in the 1992 and 1988 Olympics.
In the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, the Philippines placed sixth.