What’s next for Team Philippines after Rio 2016 Olympics?

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Hidilyn Diaz (image from http://www.philstar.com)

What’s next for Philippine sports?

The Rio 2016 Olympics has just concluded, with Team USA claiming the last gold for beating Team Serbia in men’s basketball. For Team Philippines, this is the Olympics to remember: weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz snatched silver to bring out a number of milestones:

  • First Olympic medal in weightlifting
  • First Filipina to win an Olympic medal
  • First non-boxer to medal since the Berlin 1938 Olympics
  • First Olympic medalist from Mindanao
  • First Olympic medal since the Altanta 1996 Olympics

As a longtime sports observer, this is more than good news: this is the news we need to break away from the constant news cycle of corruption and killings that always take place in the Philippines, a country that invests too much in beauty and tourism but less in sports, sciences, and humanities. Miss Diaz’s win should resurrect the Philippines’ pride in sports and increase the investment and involvement.

Teófilo-Yldefonso

Teófilo Yldefonso, first Filipino Olympic medalist (image from http://www.filipiknow.net)

There is simply no rest for Team Philippines. There is the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia, the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, and most importantly, the 2020 Olympics in Japan – all important sporting events at our side of Asia. One question: are we ready to reclaim our sporting glory? (Or a follow-up question: have we already given up sports in favor of beauty contests and most beautiful places’ lists?)

Vietnam and Singapore celebrate their first ever gold medals, courtesy of shooting and swimming, respectively – two S’s, can’t you believe it? The Philippines and Malaysia have yet to win an Olympic gold, while Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Brunei have yet to win an Olympic medal.

Aside from Singapore and Vietnam, other countries also basked in the glory of their first Olympic gold: Bahrain (athletics), Fiji (rugby sevens), Ivory Coast (taekwondo), Jordan (taekwondo), Kosovo (judo), Puerto Rico (tennis), and Tajikistan (athletics).

The Philippines is the 2nd populous country without an Olympic gold. Bangladesh is 1st. Is that something to be proud of? A gold medal is equal to 24 first place finishes in Miss Universe, Miss International, and Miss World, a silver to 16 and a bronze to 12. Think of it.

philippine-volcanoes

The Volcanoes, Philippines’ national rugby union team (image from philnews.ph)

Jasmine_Alkhaldi

Jasmine Alkhaldi has yet to unleash her full potential. (image from http://www.pinoyheadline.com)

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Philippine Habagat, national baseball team (image from http://www.rappler.com)

Miss Diaz’s weightlifting medal should remind sports officials that Filipinos have potential to excel in sports other than boxing and basketball. It is time Filipinos need to revisit athletics, taekwondo, tennis, wushu, softball, chess, sepak takraw, bowling, and cue sports. We have a landscape conducive for aquatics (swimming, diving, rowing, canoeing, sailing, and other water-based sports), volleyball, cycling, baseball, rugby, and equestrian. There are private individuals and corporations that can sponsor talents and/or provide material and financial backing for soccer, gold, handball, field hockey, archery, shooting, fencing, rugby, squash, and ice skating. Our schools are good enough to produce talents in badminton, dance sports, and gymnastics. Religious institutions can do to provide training grounds for our national players.

Every Filipino should get involved in sports, either as direct participants, mentors, sponsors, and dedicated fans (not bandwagon fans). There is a Filipino potential in almost every sport in the world.

Miss Diaz’s silver finish should serve as an eye-opener and a motivation. Stakeholders should realize the golden potential of every Filipino athlete, young and old, natural-born or naturalized. With proper training and support (spiritual, moral and financial), the Filipino sportsperson is fit for a first place finish in the podium. The Filipino is suited enough to land third, but he/she is better for second place. But he/she is great and powerful enough for first place.

Additional reads:

Olympics: Singapore and 8 other countries that are celebrating their first ever gold medal

Southeast Asia Is Having Its Best Olympics Ever

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