How much in actual financial support did Filipino Olympic figure skater Michael Martinez get for this bid at Sochi? Officially, it’s $7,500 if the Philippine Sports Commission is to be believed. Then Manny Pangilinan (more popularly known as MVP) granted Martinez $10,000 after the skater managed to make a respectable finish at the finals of his event at Sochi.
Almost everybody in the business world know that MVP knows a good investment when he sees one, and I doubt if the company he controls spends measly amounts on basketball teams.
What am I saying? Martinez is a good long-term investment in so far as an Olympic gold medal bid is concerned, and I won’t be surprised if MVP plunks in another $10,000 or even $100,000 for the kid’s training for international skate meets and eventually the 2018 Winter Olympics. And there are other owners or managers of conglomerates who can invest $10,000 to $100,000 on Martinez’s training needs. Remember too that the family of Martinez should recover the ownership of their home, which they mortgaged just to fund the training of the kid for Sochi.
I never really expected Martinez to land a medal at Sochi, but placing in the top 20 was more than enough. And come to think of it —he was the youngest competitor in the event at 17 years old.
At his present age, Martinez has at least three more Olympic appearances, presuming that his physical peak would be in the early 30s. And by the time he winds up his skating career, he would be well equipped to train future Filipino skaters.
The wonder about figure skating is height could actually be a disadvantage, and muscular or fatty bulk is a big no-no. And that makes it easier for Filipinos to excel at the sport, provided they get the best training and have access to facilities (specifically, skating rinks which Henry Sy already built).
Balance is a very critical in figure skating, and shorter athletes with strong cores (as opposed to having bulky muscles) can attain better balance on ice compared to the taller and bulkier ones. Just observe champion skaters Tara Lapinski and Mi–chelle Kwan (although Kwan wasn’t exactly slim).
So investing in the sports of figure skating, either or both by private companies and the government, is a no-brainer. And I see no reason why the Martinez family should find a hard time finding funds for his future Olympic bids.
But if Martinez scrimps for funds for his training after Sochi, then something is somewhat wrong with Philippine sports.
From what I have heard, a lot of private money is involved in bolstering the line ups the top collegiate teams for their chosen team to win the championships in the major leagues. And what is the reward of a collegiate basketball team winning the championship? Bragging rights? I even wonder if a collegiate basketball championship helps build the brand of a university or college.
And for sure, million of pesos will be spent on the bid of Smart Gilas Pilipinas in the upcoming 2014 Basketball World Cup in Spain.
I have nothing against basketball, because I also watch the finals of the Philippine Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association (NBA).
But the truth is the Philippines can’t bring home an Olympic medal from basketball in the next 10 years or so.
The reason is simple—Chinese players are getting taller and smoother with the game, and the Europeans are never to be discounted. And the NBA stars will have a monopoly of the Olympic gold most of the time.
Loading the Philippine basketball team with more than five “naturalized” players, on the other hand, will surely dilute the national character of the team.
As for Martinez, he has accomplished so much with little funding and even fanfare. So just imagine how far can he go if he gets adequate funds for his next Olympic effort. That’s a no-brainer.