LONDON – With a foot injury after competing at the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar, Richard Gonzales considers himself very lucky to have been able to play at the recent World Cup of Ping Pong and come out victorious.
Gonzales won a bronze medal, the highest finish the Philippines has achieved so far in two years of joining the tournament. He was eliminated after losing to Russia’s Maxim Chmyrev in the semi-finals last January 5.
On Tuesday, Gonzales and members of his team visited the Philippine Embassy to report their achievement and, at the same time, express their concerns – among them, lack of funding.
“There were supposed to be two players coming from Cebu who could have come, but we did not have enough budget,” the team’s coach, Prof. Oscar Santelices of the University of the Philippines College of Human Kinetics, told Ambassador Enrique Manalo.
Gonzales was one of three Filipinos who joined the competition, where rackets made of sandpaper were used.
Sixty-four players from all over the world took part in the contest.
“I was winning consistently, but during the semi-finals, my feet hurt,” said Gonzales. “I got the injury during the SEA Games in Myanmar when I slipped. I even thought I wouldn’t be able to make it here.”
Gonzales also said they had difficulty getting enough financial support for the team.
“I thought we would not be able to compete because of the lack of budget,” he said. “I’m calling on the government to support us, athletes, when we compete in other countries.”
Despite the lack of resources and time to train, Gonzales made it and could not be more thankful.
Santelices believes Filipino athletes can win bigger next year.
“We have so much potential here,” he said. “And God willing, given the support of the government and the private sector, we would be able to win the world title.”