Where do the candidates for President and Vice President in the 2016 elections stand on the development of Philippine sports to Olympic level?
On thin ice, most of them anyway not having made even motherhood statements on helping, say, Eric Cray—an outright berth winner—make it to the podium of the 400 meter hurdles or Eumir Felix Marcial—if he makes it through tough qualifiers—land a Top 3 finish in boxing’s welterweight division in next year’s Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro.
There’s hope, at least from words of support on many occasions for the Filipino athlete from Vice President Jejomar Binay.
But then, President wannabe Grace Poe raised the ante in her speech after declaring last month that she will contest the top post in the land seven months from now.
“Arts, culture and sports deserve the government’s attention. We are recognized internationally as a creative race of visual artists, writers and performers, but we do not value them ourselves. They bring us honor, so we should support them. Our athletes too need our support. We should never give up on our dream to win an Olympic gold medal,” she said on September 16 at UP Bahay ng Alumni.
Poe, however, did not say how she would engineer cobbling that mint that has eluded the Philippines for more than 80 years.
Still, she must have realized that it is time for a country with now around 100 million people to crown an Olympic Games champion.
In contrast, Grenada (133 square miles, with a population of 110,000 at present), in the Caribbean, has a gold-medal winner in Kirani James, victor in the 400 meters at the 2012 London Olympics.
Poe should realize that it will cost three arms and three legs to produce an Olympic champion—money for training, money for the athlete’s subsistence, money for his or her coach, money for his or her entourage of fitness and other experts.
It is just like in the Oscars where an official entry in the foreign-language film category reportedly has to cough out at least $2 million to carry out a decent campaign for the movie to be screened by the judges and for the entertainment press to even notice it.
Poe, perhaps, can enlist the services of Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in helping realize the country’s first Olympic gold.
Marcos had studied several martial arts including aikido, which should qualify him to be an Olympic king or queen maker.
Besides, he is known to have competed in judo jousts when he was a kid.
Marcos, incidentally, awarded our Sports editor, Perry Gil Mallari, as one of the Top 10 Filipino Martial Artists during the first Philippine Martial arts Hall of Fame in 2012.
Meanwhile, Poe, supposedly, wants Philippine sports authorities to focus a little more on boxing, arguably the sport where the country can take pride in silver-medal winners in Anthony Villanueva and Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco.
It is a fair suggestion, with Manny Pacquiao probably the last person to dispute it as baseless.
Pacquiao has been one of many whose exploits have earned them each a Senate resolution from Poe for exemplary achievements in sports, the other being his fellow boxer Nonito Donaire, figure skater Christian Martinez and chess player Wesley So.
Let’s just hope that Poe will be able to put her money where her mouth is if she does make it to Malacañang.