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15 Standing

>> Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Beijing Olympics is over. In 4 years' time, we will be sending another batch of athletes to the 2012 London Olympics.

Will we face the same fate as what we went through on the 2008 Summer Olympics?

We shouldn't despair at the results of our medal tally (or lack of one). Our 15 athletes gave their best.

We must remember that the Olympics is a culmination of the best of the best. The top players from each country are sent to one venue to showcase what they have. All of our athletes have rankings and they are part of the elite. If Olympics would just provide 100 medals for each sport, the Philippines would surely accept one. But the Olympics doesn't act that way. There are only 3 medals given to every sport, every category. Chances are really slim for tens of thousands of athletes competing. It's a will to finish, to win, to be better than what they are capable of.

We had high hopes for our taekwondo team. If my memory serves me right, we were close to having a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics at Greece. Toni Rivero was up against Greece. It was a judged game, and we can't just protest against the judges. They know better and it's best to respect it. We can say that it was biased. But if you look at it, both were great players. It's really a 50-50 chance. Both wanted the medal. They both gave their best kicks. Being 4th in Taekwondo ranking isn't that bad. It was a learning experience for Toni.

This year, we didn't even make it past the first round. According to Taekwondo analyzers, Toni's opponent was really strong. In the world rankings, the opponent had a higher ranking than Toni. But Toni is still part of the top 100 Taekwondo players in the world. She works on her sport with passion and she's driven for every kick she does.

The same way with our athletes. They have trained hard, they are our best players. Miguel Molina broke his own ASEAN record.

So what should we do in order to get a medal? I'm not sure if this is feasible in the short run, but we could start right now, right? One small step at a time and in 10 years, we might be able to work on our first gold medal. It's never too late to start.

1. The Sports Commission should build a sports training center. I'm not expecting an Olympic village where all facilities are high tech. What our athletes need are usable facilities, facilities that aren't ready to be buried 6 feet under. Clean facilities, strong and sturdy equipment, and strong building foundations. There should also be a livable quarters for the athletes coming from the provinces. Clean restrooms and soft beds.

2. Sponsors should work together to provide the nutritional needs of our athletes. If you read my previous entry, you should see how much Michael Phelps eats per day. Our athletes need nutrition and vitamins. There was news about a triathlete who committed suicide because of his poor condition. He sleeps in a small dusty room and he only eats one can of sardines a day. How will you expect him to finish strong if you don't feed his body? There are companies who do support athletes. If they support a group of athletes, there will be an equal distribution of support.

3. Train athletes at a young age. China breeds a set of gymnasts starting at age 5. Start young, finish strong. If you train them when they're still kids, their body will adjust to the rigorous training needed to compete in the Olympics.

4. This is for the parents. Let your child suffer. The problem with parents is that they don't want to see their children pushing their bodies to the limit. if you instill the value of excellence, they will understand that life is not a piece of cake. Training will not make them weaklings, it'll make them stronger and better. Exercising and training prepares the body for bigger obstacles. In order to get that gold, they should work hard for it. Of course, the children would need support from their parents. That is also important.

5. Look for a sport that will fit the physical features of the Filipinos. We've been trying to tap the basketball scene. We're a race of small people. How many pure Filipinos have heights like the NBA players? Face it, we weren't really meant for basketball. Gymnastics does not require height. We're artistic and we can channel it through gymnastics. We are light, so we can lift our own bodies on beams and on the mat. Synchronized swimming does not have a height requirement. It's an artistic sport, which we can pull off. There is an advantage for tall players in Tennis, but not a necessity. Tennis needs agility and quick reflexes. We can tap a lot of sports, all we need to do is to find our own niche.

6. Spend on coaches. We need excellent world-class coaches. Invest on coaches who will push the limit of our athletes and bring out the best in them.

7. For the government. Giving Php 15M for gold medallists is crap. It's not motivation, no matter how flowery you phrase it. They need the 15M for training, not after they have won. I think that the government is bold to provide such proposal because they know that it's a slim chance that all 15 will win a gold medal. If they provided the 15M before, the chances of winning a gold medal will be higher. Stupid motivation. Give it during training, nitwits. Sports is an expensive investment. If they want athletes to win, they should give provide the best opportunity and support.

This is a shout out to the Sports Commission and the government. Instead of focusing on the ZTE crap, the government should start investing on education and sports. How many Filipinos care about the ZTE? Honestly, I turn off the television when it's the evening news. The bickering of the lawmakers on making GMA resign or some nuisance in laws is nonsense. They're just wasting the taxes from my salary. If I had an option, I'd be willing to give my taxes to fund for a sports complex exclusive for athletes, or books for public schools.

So congratulations to the Philippine Team for representing our country. You proved yourselves worthy. Till next Olympics. Training starts today and in 4 years, we will be counting on you again. You're worth watching and cheering for, than the politicians seated in those comfortable rooms and making useless laws that aren't implemented.


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