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Olympians and wannabes: Keep eyes on the prize

/ 05:20 AM January 10, 2020

Short of hiring valets and maids to stand ready at the beck and call of our Olympians and wannabes to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) will pamper these athletes just the same.

A report by Inquirer sports scribe June Navarro said the PSC will go above and beyond for world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and Asian champion pole vaulter EJ Obiena—who have booked tickets to Tokyo already—and for those who can snag coveted Olympic berths.

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The PSC, according to Navarro, is out to provide members of this elite group “their own support crews all the way” to the Tokyo Olympiad.

PSC Chair William Ramirez says that each Olympic-bound athlete will get the works: a sports psychologist, nutritionist, strength and conditioning coach, physiotherapist, physical therapist, all the way to a sports science expert.

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With seven months to go to the Games, the only thing the PSC asks the early qualifiers and the other athletes out to follow their lead is to keep their eyes on the prize—the first ever Olympic gold medal, or medals, to go with the country’s three silvers and seven bronzes to date.After almost a century of participation in the Summer Games, the Philippines will pull out all stops to end its gold-medal drought in the world’s greatest multisports event.

Sports officials and a supportive national government are fiercely determined this time around to prime Olympic-bound athletes properly and will spend P100 million for the endeavor.

These men and women were previously part of an army of local sports heroes bankrolled by P1 billion in funding from the PSC who competed and trained abroad. Their overseas stints helped Team Philippines win the overall title handily in the 30th Southeast Asian Games concluded recently in New Clark City, Metro Manila and other venues.

Gone are the days when our Olympic-bound athletes lacked physical and mental preparation, foreign exposure and adequate nutrition in the face of formidable opposition on the world stage.

Expected to be part of the Philippines’ Olympic delegation is weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, the Rio silver medalist currently ranked third in the world in the women’s 55-kilogram division.

Diaz, the first athlete to ask for a support staff from the PSC, has two more Olympic qualifying tournaments, but will only need to be among the top eight to make it to Tokyo.

Weightlifting chief Monico Puentevella recalls that during the “dark days” of his national sports association when support from the PSC of old was lacking, the MVP sports foundation and the Ayala Group of companies stepped up to the plate for local weightlifters.

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Puentevella said these corporate donors gave equipment and generous amounts of vitamins and supplements when weightlifting and its athletes “were unknown” to local sports fans.

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TAGS: 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, Olympians and wannabes, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Southpaw
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