2 golds for mint-starved Pinoys at Olympics? PH sports chief says it’s doable

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Dec 14 2020 08:43 AM

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Two gold medals for the Philippines at next year's Tokyo Olympics?

The country's Olympic athletes are capable of such a haul, according to Philippine Sports Commission chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, who presented the PSC’s accomplishments in 2020 and plans and programs for 2021 during a virtual press conference on Friday.

“By 2021, win at least 2 Olympic gold medals,” Ramirez said of the PSC’s aspirations in the press guide distributed to the media at the briefing.

“Itong panahong ito, nakikita natin na napakamaraming potential na may chance mag-kamedalya (ng ginto). (During this time, we see a lot of potential athletes who could win a gold medal),” said the PSC chief, who was also chef de mission of the national team that saw action in the 2006 Doha Asian Games and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Hidilyn Diaz proved that we could win in the Olympics,” Ramirez said of the weightlifter who bagged a silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics, ending a 20-year medal drought at the quadrennial sports showcase. 

“Then you also have Caloy Yulo, who won a gold in last year’s world gymnastics championships,” he added of the athlete who became the country’s second Olympic qualifier on the way to ruling the men’s floor exercise at the worlds held in Stuttgart, Germany in October last year. 

Ramirez likewise mentioned boxer Olympic-bound boxer Felix Eumir Marcial and pole-vaulter Ernest John Obiena, who are training in the US and Italy, respectively, as other athletes who could attain a golden breakthrough in Tokyo

“We still have about 20 to 29 athletes who are in qualifying and we will continue to support all of them,” he said, noting the rising trend of Filipino athletes excelling internationally over the past four years.

“We were that when President Duterte assumed office in 2016 that the country won an Olympic silver medal. Then we won several gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games,” Ramirez said. “Of course, we won the overall championship in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.”

“Kung sabungero ka makikita mo yong trend. (If you are a cockfighting man you can see the trend),” he said of his hunch.

He said that despite the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. reducing remittances to the PSC, it supported “all of our Olympic qualifiers and hopefuls. Hindi namin sila pababayaan. (We will not let them down).”

The PSC has been keeping tabs of all the Olympic qualifiers and aspirants through national team chef de mission Mariano Araneta Jr. and Philippine Olympic Committee secretary-general Atty. Edwin Gastanes, according to the PSC head.

He said the PSC plans to have the Philippine Olympic contingent be in Tokyo a month before the Games, which kicks off on July 23 and runs until Aug. 8, in adjusting to the expected warm weather conditions in the Japanese capital during the event. 

“We plan to have an advance team to look for modest hotels in Tokyo where our athletes can live before the Olympics. It would be better for them to be there weeks ahead before the Games,” Ramirez said.

He lauded Congress for coming to the aid of the cash-strapped PSC by raising the agency’s allotment in the 2021 national budget so that the country could fulfill its international sports commitments, including the Olympics and the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games.

Although Ramirez did not mention the exact figure, newly reelected POC president and Tagaytay Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino disclosed after the POC polls on Nov. 27 that the Senate approved more than 900 million for the PSC budget next year.