Focus more on sports, says Lopez
If the trend of ignoring sports as a priority issue continues, Philippine Olympic Committee first vice president Manny Lopez believes an even smaller contingent of athletes will qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
“Success in sports doesn’t happen overnight,” said Lopez, the country’s chef de mission in the recent London Olympics.
“We really have to give due attention to Philippine sports if we want to improve. Otherwise, we’ll be sending less athletes in 2016,” added Lopez, who arrived with 10 of 11 London Olympians, their coaches and other top sports officials.
The athletes from eight sports, except for boxer Mark Anthony Barriga, all bowed out in their initial outings.
The Philippines has remained without a medal for the fourth straight Olympiad or since boxer Mansueto Velasco captured a light flyweight silver in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Lopez, who was the boxing association head when Velasco nailed his silver, said the government should take the initiative to reverse the sliding trend.
“It should come from the government. Grassroots training is the key. Sports should be incorporated in the school curriculum,” said Lopez. “Focus on sports where height isn’t a factor.
Disappointment still gripped the athletes upon their arrival with judoka Tomohiko Hoshina apologizing for a quick first-round defeat and shooter Brian Rosario looking forward to redeem himself four years from now.
Also arriving from London on Tuesday evening were boxer Mark Anthony Barriga, long-jumper Marestella Torres, 5,000-meter bet Rene Herrera, swimmer Jessie Khing Lacuna, archers Mark Javier and Rachelle Anne Cabral and BMX rider Daniel Caluag. With a report from Jerome Aning