• ‘Tokhang’ your way to Olympic gold

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    ROMY P. MARIÑAS

    ROMY P. MARIÑAS

    One reason why Team Britain was consistently a podium finisher in its participation in the last three Olympic Games (Beijing, London and Rio) was that the government footed the bill of the athlete most likely to deliver and not necessarily the gold medal.

    Under this arrangement, plus the cooperation of UK Sport and funds from the National Lottery, Great Britain or the United Kingdom became most successful in the 2016 Olympiad in Brazil.

    Its surprising turn has helped stop locker-room talk that the Englishmen were only good in rowing, cycling and other “sit-down” sports where they squat for hours until they are blue in the butt before they can get a whiff of a medal of any color.

    UK Sport is the “nation’s high performance sports agency. Its mission is to work in partnership to lead sport[s]in the UK to world-class Olympic success.”

    Of course the deal was that funding for the sports association to which a decathlete or a sprinter belongs would be mercilessly cut if any of its charges would perform miserably in actual competition.

    And so the athlete cannot come up with excuses because he is given everything that he needs such that he does not have to partly pay for his Olympic stint by working as a bartender or a waiter, as reportedly resorted to by American would-be Olympians.

    The Philippines can learn from the Team Britain model and can even top it with a little more creativity and a better sense of priorities.

    After all, it already has for a funding source the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), perhaps the equivalent of the National Lottery.

    Pagcor is known to support Philippine sports all these years but it has not been rewarded an Olympic gold medal, at least from the time it began bankrolling basketball and other disciplines where the country in a million years cannot even expect to get to the knockout stage of the sport in the quadrennial global competition.

    In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Philippines will have competed in the Games for more than 100 years but, this early, preparations ahead of the greatest sports show on earth are mired in politics even under a sports czar who was supposed to have been handpicked by President Rodrigo Duterte.

    All the President has to do is to order these sports honchos to shut up and they will do so under pain of Oplan: Tokhang (not that one meant for junkies), tell them to produce a gold medal winner in the Tokyo for his, well, legacy and the bragging rights to be the first President of the Republic of the Philippines (pre-federal system) whose administration is not only known for producing international beauty pageant winners but also Olympic-class boxers and swimmers.

    Duterte can also put up a “counterpart” of the millions in rewards he gives to those who rat on drug lords and drug pushers for the most promising Filipino athlete in any Olympic sport.

    This “counterpart” would go a long way in enabling the sports association to which an athlete belongs to get the services of a psychologist, masseur, dietician and other experts who can help the Olympic hopeful scale the Everest of all sports.

    Under-achieving is not an option because the athlete must understand that there is no free pass to anywhere.

    And he need not snitch on anyone.

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