No rest for nat’l pool athletes
After wrapping the flag around themselves when Team Philippines won the overall title at home in the recent 11-nation Southeast Asian Games, athletes belonging to the national training pool can now relax and rest up, right?
The elite group belonging to the national team program is under orders to keep in shape and then report to the front lines when the Philippine National Games (PNG) unfurls in late May at the refurbished Rizal Memorial and PhilSports complexes in Manila and Pasig.
Philippine Sports Commission Chair William Ramirez has formed a national committee led by executive director Merly Ibay and her deputy, Guillermo Iroy, to lock plans for the PNG and the Batang Pinoy meets this year.
As is customary, priority athletes have to show up for the PNG and are expected to win their assignments or eclipse their own records.
Since each is paid a tidy sum ranging from P10,200 to P45,000, the nationals have excellent attendance in the PNG. But PNG commissioner Celia Kiram warns athletes who don’t see action that they “run the risk of being dropped from the roster and face the possibility of being replaced.”
In other words, national pool members have to be on their toes all the time and must deliver laudable feats at the PNG since they will face opposition from fresh recruits who make it to the national sportsfest by placing in the top three of their sport in the National Capital Region, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao championships.
The PNG, Kiram said, is open to all athletes, especially those who want to become part of the national pool.
Spared from the trenches are national athletes currently training for the Olympics or fighting tooth and nail to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
While the PNG is mandatory, the overseas training of local athletes vying for coveted Olympic berths “is a requirement for their Olympic preparation,” Ramirez stressed. Thus, these athletes “are exempted.”
Football chief Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, the chef de mission to the Tokyo Games, said there are at least 35 athletes in individual sports, plus the team members of the rowing and 3×3 basketball now prepping for Olympic qualifying tournaments until June.
The individual athletes are from weightlifting, athletics, gymnastics, boxing, swimming, table tennis, golf, skateboarding, cycling, judo and other Olympic sports.
Araneta said he has asked these national sports associations to submit their budgets for training and for qualifying events.
He also said the final Philippine team’s accreditation for the Tokyo Olympiad from July 28 to Aug. 9 this year will be a breeze with an online system developed by Games organizers and the International Olympic Committee.