Let the Olympic dream live on
Before you know it, the 2012 London Olympics will already be upon us. It seems like we were just done gushing over the Games that Beijing had hosted and here we are already thinking of the athletes eyeing London.
The week was filled with stories about the Filipino Olympic hopefuls in taekwondo, boxing and badminton. Even the injury plagued Smart Gilas basketball team now in Jakarta for the Seaba tournament remains hopeful for a chance to bring the Philippines back to Olympic basketball, no matter how impossible that mission may seem to be.
These sports stories can intrigue the reader in two ways: one, the skeptic will dismiss these Olympic dreams as wishful thinking, given how advanced the rest of the world is in preparing its athletes and how we are still caught in endless political battles on how sport should be managed in this country.
Two, there will be more understanding readers and sports enthusiasts who know that the Olympic dream is the ultimate goal of any athlete. Despite controversies, tragedies and accusations of crass commercialism, the Olympic Games are still the best venue for athletes to test how good they are. There are world championships of all sorts for all disciplines but nothing come close to the honor of being an Olympic winner, medalist or participant.
“Olympian” is a badge of honor very few athletes get the opportunity to wear at the Games and for the rest of their lives. Having participated in the Olympics, whether the athlete was booted out in the first round or climbed the medalists’ platform is a rare chance. Many get multiple opportunities, while others get one golden shot.
Being an Olympian is a thrill and achievement for the athlete because participating allows him/her to assess the level of expertise he/she brings against the stars of one’s discipline and other entries. The Olympic ambience, regardless of where the Games are held, encourages one to go flat out because not too many sports have losers’ brackets or second opportunities.
The Olympic stint can be frustrating for those who go home empty-handed or fail to live up to hype or expectations. Philippine participation has never been extremely hopeful but instead grateful when one star manages to shine and gets reasonable breaks along the way. Silver medalists Anthony Villanueva and Onyok Velasco brought us as close as possible to tasting Olympic gold in boxing. We are proud of their achievements as they brought life to otherwise unsuccessful campaigns.
The Philippine Olympic dream should be allowed to flourish no matter how remote or distant actually winning is. Filipino athletes are of the most gifted, talented and determined in the world. We should nurture their dreams nevertheless with well-planned and funded programs, overseas competition and superb coaching. Olympic dreams are perfectly all right but they shouldn’t be allowed to remain as only dreams.
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