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Olympic dream alive anew in Rio

/ 01:15 AM August 01, 2016
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his message for Rio-bound Filipino athletes. MARLON RAMOS

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his message for Rio-bound Filipino athletes. MARLON RAMOS

WHAT does it take to win an Olympic gold medal?

Michael Phelps, history’s most successful Olympian with 18 gold medals, once said that blood, sweat and grit and how you climb back from the pits of defeat are four things that separate the victor from the vanquished. (BBC Profiles of Courage series, London 2012).

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How convenient to commit the sin of manufacturing comparisons here. Permit us, though, to cite two popular, long-standing theories.

One: Filipinos, like their Malay brothers in Southeast Asia, have physiques and athletic abilities that, like it or not, pale to those of the other races.

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There certainly is a very limited number of Olympic sports where the Filipino can hold his own against the rest of the world.

Two: The pound-for-pound theory is supreme in sports and obliterates the first theory.

Contact sports like boxing, taekwondo and wrestling—up to a certain weight class—for instance. And so on.

Boxing provides the loudest justification to the second argument.

Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco and Anthony Villanueva before him came closest to bagging that elusive gold, settling for silver medals that have served as anchors to the Philippines’ greatest claim to Olympic fame.

Other than that pair of silvers, and after 30 Olympiads, the country has managed just nine bronze medals in exactly three sports: Track and field, swimming and boxing.

It infuriates the sports fan in us that in the last four Summer Games, Filipino athletes were shut out of the medal picture. Zero in 16 years.

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Now 12 Filipinos are setting out in another all-or-nothing campaign to destroy this growing malady of Olympic futility.

These magnificent men and women deserve our prayers and support. It’s victory already that they have reached the Olympics on their own merit. After all, not every athlete can vie for glory in the greatest sports spectacle on Earth.

Inquirer Sports can take refuge in Napoleon Bonaparte’s parting shot as he gathered his army for an invasion: “Victory belongs to the most persevering.”

Now we dream again in Rio de Janeiro. Ted S. Melendres

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TAGS: Anthony Villanueva, gold medal, Onyok Velasco, PH Rio Olympics, Philippines, Rio Olympics
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