Monday, August 25, 2008

Are we going to learn from Beijing Olympics?

The Beijing Olympics is finally over. It ended yesterday as colorfully as it opened 16 days ago. China, United States, and Russian hauled the most number of medals with over 20 gold medals each, 51 – 36 – 23, respectively.

The Philippines? Well . . . Together with 122 countries, we got nary a medal.

Before our 15 athletes left for Beijing Olympics, I wished but didn’t expect them to come home with the bacon.

Why? First, compared to the international standards, our athletes are not getting the best equipment and training and the right moral and financial supports - the proper salaries, perks and incentives. As a matter of fact, even their uniforms are sub-standards. Our two swimmers got their swimsuits ripped so easily; and they didn’t have spares. I also doubt if they are getting the right and proper nutrition necessary for athletes.

Second, our contingent was very small – 15 athletes only. There were more than 300 events with more than 900 gold, silver and bronze medals at stake. Hence, the chances of picking medals were slim. I am not saying that we should field athlete in every event. I know our country couldn’t afford that. With the international calibers of athletes of most countries, our athletes need tons of tons of luck to pick a gold medal. We almost got one in 1996 courtesy of Mansueto (Onyok) Velasco (for boxing) but he was not lucky enough. He was cheated by the judges – so, I heard. The other silver medal we had was through boxing too courtesy of Anthony Villanueva in 1964.

Since 1924 (or out of 19 participations in the Olympics), we only picked a total of 9 medals (2 bronze for athletics, 2 silver and 3 bronze for boxing, and 2 bronze for swimming).

Here are the years when we got our medals:

    1928 – 1 bronze
    1932 – 3 bronze
    1936 – 1 bronze
    1964 – 1 silver
    1988 – 1 bronze
    1992 – 1 bronze
    1996 – 1 silver
    Total – 9

We may have the best athletes, as far as the Philippine or Asian standards are concerned, but they are not good enough against the world. But, some officials thought our athletes would and could win by bribing them in the form of monetary incentives by the millions.

I don’t consider our athletes as losers but Olympians who gave their best and tried to give honors to our country. Congratulations to Hidilyn Diaz, Henry Tanamor, Daniel Coakley, Christel Simms, Henry Dagmil, Maristella Torres, Tshomlee Go, Mary Antoinette Rivero, Mark Javier, Miguel Molina, James Wlsh, Ryan Arabejo, Rexel Ryan Fabriga, Sheila Mae Perez, and Eric Ang and thank you for representing our beloved country. MABUHAY KAYO!

Again, it’s all water under the bridge. But, we must learn from this experience. We have not learned from the past Olympics; and I hope we would now. The government should start the revamp and overhaul of the sports programs and systems then start preparing for the next Olympics and other sporting events.

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