Editorial: That elusive gold-A A +A
Friday, August 10, 2012
WITH hopes for a medal finish that now lies solely on the shoulders of BMX rider Daniel Caluag, the Philippines is headed for another Olympic debacle.
After ending up with no medal to show in the Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008) Olympics, the country is about to duplicate its worst finish in the world's greatest sporting stage and has London as its latest graveyard.
It's the same old story -- Filipino athletes falling by the wayside one by one in the face of world-class competition --and definitely ending up with the same old refrain --Filipino officials resorting to finger-pointing after another Olympic disaster.
Nothing positive has been attained by the Philippines campaigns in the quadrennial meet since boxer Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco won a silver in the 1996 Atlanta Games and, judging from the looks of it, will continue to be that way in 2012.
Of course, this is not to belittle Caluag, who is still very much in contention, although his clocking of 40.9 seconds in the seeding run of the BMX race was way off the leaders heading into the quarterfinal phase of the event.
Already eliminated were archers Rachelle Anne Cabral and Mark Javier, swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jesse King Lacuna, lifter Hiilyn Diaz, shooter Brian Rosairo and judoka Tomohiko Hosina. Gone, too, was boxer Mark Athony Barriga, who gave Filipinos something to cheer about early on when he reached the second round of the boxing competitions, but only to exit the next round when he lost to a Kazakhstan fighter.
These athletes -- and Caluag -- deserve praises for representing the country in the Olynpics and going up against the world's best competitors. They definitely have nothing to be ashamed of with their performance and should return home with their heads held high.
The London Games proved something we already knew but just refuse to accept -- that in competitions like the Olympics, Filipino athletes are a darn miles ahead in terms of training and exposure.
We have the skills than can be at par with some of the world's best athletes like those in boxing and taekwondo, or even in archery. Except that the Philippines doesn't have an honest-to-goodness sports program and officials whose heart are really for the athletes. Sports officials who are not corrupt and who are willing to sacrifice their personal interest just to have Philippine sports move forward.
Too much politics also hurt sports in a country longing to win that elusive Olympic gold, a reality that has been there since time immemorial.
When will we ever learn? Nevertheless, for a start, President Aquino must do something to save Philippine sports from its doldrums. Otherwise we will continue to get a big goose egg in the Olympics instead of counting medals.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 10, 2012.