What went wrong, this time in Incheon?

6

The performance of Team Philippines in the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea echoes again the sorry state of the country’s sports system.

Ending up with only one gold medal from an unlikely sport, BMX, shows that this basketball-crazy nation should start putting its resources in other sports that can assure victories.

Besides the gold won by biker Daniel Caluag, the Philippines garnered three silver and 11 bronze medals to end up 22nd overall among 55 countries. (The International Olympic Committee does not endorse the medal tally to crown the “winner’’ of world sports events that it sanctions but it cannot stop participating countries from citing it in their quest for athletic, if not economic and political, superiority.)

The other Filipino medalists are Charly Suarez of boxing and Jean Claude Saclag and Daniel Parantac of wushu (silver); and archer Paul Marlon dela Cruz, boxers Mark Barriga, Mario Fernandez and Wilfredo Lopez, karateka Mae Soriano, tae kwo do jins Benjamin Sembrano, Thomas Morrison, Mary Pelaez, Kirstie Elaine Alora and Ronna llao and wushu artist Francisco Solis (bronze).


Meanwhile, Thailand was sixth overall with six golds, while supposedly food-poor North Korea was at seventh place. As usual, powerhouse China topped not only the gold tally with 151 but also the Games itself for the nth time.

“How many times do we have to review our sport program?” a comment on a website asked. “We don’t want to select and train our athletes the right way, we always go for the shortcut by hiring athletes who shoulder their training by themselves. We don’t even have quality training facilities and coaches for our athletes. Worse, the budget for training is so small compared to other countries and a portion of this budget is pocketed by politicians/officials.”

This party explains the low finish of the Philippines in the 2014 Incheon Asiad and we cannot agree more with the opinion of a visibly seething sports watcher.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd, whose uncle Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. heads the Philippine Olympic Committee, himself expressed disappointment over the country’s forgettable performance and called for the resources to be channeled to sports where Filipinos have a competitive edge.

Apparently, it is in combat sports that we can hold our own even against the world’s best.

Although no gold medal was brought home from such disciplines during the Incheon Games, harvested were 13 silvers and bronzes out of the total 15 won by the country.

Other sports deserve funding, however. The Philippines should be thankful that there are sports patrons like Manuel V. Pangilinan, or MVP, whose donations to the national basketball and boxing teams cannot be overlooked.

What the country needs are more MVPs, particularly those from large companies that earn big each year and who would be willing to give financial backing to the combat sportsmen and sportswomen, and even archers like Gabriel Luis Moreno, gold medalist (mixed team) in last months’s Youth Olympic Games.

More important, the Philippines must undertake a grassroots sports development program that will identify which disciplines an aspiring young athlete can excel in.

It may be also be good for us to keep politicians out from the country’s sports program, which they seem to treat as an extension of their political domain.

Also, does the country have to “naturalize” players for the national basketball team if only to make it competitive? Perhaps it is better to intensify the training of the country’s cagers than get “imports” to play for the flag.

The country’s performance in the 2014 Asian Games and even the 2013 Southeast Asian Games should serve as a wake-up call for the country’s sports authorities to rethink or even overhaul the Philippines’ sports policies.

The curse would be these authorities sleeping on such policies until the next debacle worse than Incheon.

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6 Comments

  1. Malacanang’s recent comment that they were displeased by Gilas’ performance only reveals the total lack of support – even moral – government has for sports. Manny Pangilinan’s contribution to Filipino athletes is even more appreciated since we cannot expect help from our own leaders.The only time government contributes to sports is when they involve their personal politics,

  2. Kahit naman ilaban ninyo ang Gilas Pilipinas sa mga U.S. high school basketball players ay wala ring ipapanalo ang Pilipinas team. Lalo na pag inilaban ninyo yang Gilas na yan sa WNBA womens basketball players ay taob din tayo. Harapin na lang natin ang katotohanan na maliliit tayong mga Pilipino at hindi natin kaya ang lumaban sa ibang bansa pagdating sa basketball.

  3. Sports should be developed at the school and university levels. There are many people running on Sunday morning around UP Diliman’s oval. That’s a good start. In the context of a developing country with not much money available, the effort should be first on sports not requiring a high level of investment in infrastructures. Running is one. Filipinos/as could do well at long distance running, same as the Japanese, given the light body frame of many. Organize running events at the school level and select the most promising young athletes to help them in training + schooling.

  4. I suggest that the country concentrate more in feeding its people.Well-fed people play better.

  5. Imaging having a basketball team with at least 30 members, how much the do we spend for just one gold medal when each athlete has a chance to bag at least one medal? Lopsided isn’t it?

  6. Don’t deny we have no grassroots developments, we have no government support, so what do you expect, no honey, no trophy, just simple, if you don’t sow how you can reap. We need a training program then from then select and collect the best. Those who are chosen, be train grant and support. In these way we can achieve success, In every Region must set a athlete Capital village where sports enthusiast love to learn a be a part of developmental projects. Age 8 to 9 we can start training these athlete.