No sterling feats at the PN Games
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—National athletes encountered a few pockets of resistance when they stormed their way into the Philippine National Games that ended here Friday.
Members of the elite group of 500 in 20 sports were ordered to report to the PNG frontlines by Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia, or else.
The athletes had to show up for war or risk desertion, face demotion in rank and pay and were expected to share their good fortune by winning their assignments or eclipsing their own records. After all, each is paid a tidy sum ranging from P15,000 to P40,000 a month.
Spared from the trenches in this, the fifth year of the PNG were priority athletes currently fighting tooth and nail to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and those sidelined by injury.
Garcia, whose term ends when a new President is elected in May, told the Inquirer previously that his agency has to show it is spending government money the right way.
Save for a few exceptions, the Nationals did what was expected of them, but mostly in unimpressive fashion.
They still failed to deliver laudable feats, although they met mostly token opposition from fresh recruits that made it here by placing in the top three of their sport in the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao championships.
“Our national athletes have to be on their toes at all times,” PSC commissioner Jolly Gomez, told scribes covering the lopsided hostilities at the spic-and-span Narcisco Ramos Sports and Civic Center in this Pangasinan capital town.
Gomez said the PSC will recommend athletes for inclusion in the national pool based on their performances here.
One performance that raised a few eyebrows came from long jumper Marestela Torres.
Torres, the former Asian champion ruled the women’s finals, but her winning mark of 6.13 meters was way off her own national record of 6.71m.
The two-time Olympian even fouled twice, disheartening track and field officials who expected a better showing from their star against generally ill-equipped qualifiers from the regionals.
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With the exception of a few events, the Games were held at the NRSCC, formerly a maze of ramshackle structures renovated into a modern stadium under the administration of Gov. Amado Espino Jr.
The sports center has hosted the Palarong Pambansa twice, as well as the Prisaa, the Milo Olympics and other sports events of note. It is unique among major provincial facilities because it has not gone to pot and is well maintained by a dedicated maintenance crew.
Espino has outlined an athletic program that includes plans for a sports academy and a velodrome for a province that has nurtured 19 national cycling champions.
As I write this, host Pangasinan, the current Ilocos Region Athletic Association champion was hovering between sixth and seventh place in the 45-team PNG.