MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia yesterday said the country should be proud to be represented in the ongoing Sochi Winter Games in Russia.
The PSC chief, who was in Sochi for Saturday’s opening, said the country should have more of 17-year-old figure skater Michael Christian Martinez. (Related story on A-28)
“While I was there I was being asked how the Philippines, being a tropical country, was able to produce an athlete for the Games,” said Garcia.
“We should be proud of him,” added Garcia, who in his brief stay in ice-cold Sochi, he was able to personally talk to Martinez, a product of the Philippine Skating Union.
“He was in high spirits when I spoke to him. I asked him how he was and he said he’s okay. He’s very excited. He’s soft-spoken but full of confidence,” Garcia told mediamen yesterday.
Businessman Hans Sy of the SM Group is bankrolling the participation of Martinez’ in the Games, and Garcia said it doesn’t come cheap.
“It’s not the equipment but the coaching, which comes on an hourly basis from $300 to $600 per hour. And if you need at least three hours of coaching a day then that’s a lot of money,” said Garcia.
Foreign coaches in other sports, who are under the payroll of the PSC get around $2,500 a month, and only NSAs (national sports associations) with rich private sponsors can afford to pay more than this.
“This is why we need godfathers in sports like Hans Sy who is shouldering everything for Martinez,” adding that if basketball and boxing has Manny V. Pangilinan of Smart/PLDT and golf has Ricky Razon of ICTSI then skating has Sy.
“This is what we want. We need more godfathers so it will lessen the pressure on the PSC,” said Garcia, who added that despite the presence of support from Sy, the PSC has forwarded the Philippine Olympic Committee $7,200 or roughly P314,000 for Martinez’ participation in Sochi.
Garcia reacted to reports that the PSC did not provide assistance to Martinez.
“We did not receive a single letter from the association. Besides, I was able to speak to Mr. Hans Sy who said he will take care of things,” said Garcia.