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by Dennis U. Eroa
PHILIPPINE Sports Commission chairman William “Butch” Ramirez said it’s understandable that Filipinos are expecting Pinoy Olympians to deliver the goods in the Tokyo Olympics.
Ramirez, whose leadership propelled Philippine sports to new heights said the country is fielding the most prepared and strongest delegation to the Olympics. Nineteen athletes qualified for the world’s greatest sporting event.
“People have big expectations because people’s money are being used,” said Ramirez. “These athletes are very fortunate and I’m sure there will be questions in Congress if we will not deliver.”
The Philippines is still gold-medal less since it competed in the 1924 Paris Olympics but Tokyo which is hosting the Games despite widespread opposition from the Japanese due to the pandemic may end the drought.
“I might be a witness of the first gold,” said Ramirez, who is well-loved by the sporting community because of his genuine concern for the welfare of the athletes. The PSC earmarked P200 million for the country’s participation in Tokyo. It also financed the overseas training of the athletes.
Ramirez, national team training director Marc Velasco and Philippine team doctor Randolph Molo are already in Tokyo.
“It’s not easy going to Tokyo with the health protocols. I am no longer a young man but I’m not going to let our athletes down. I’ll live and die with them,” said Ramirez. “We really can’t predict if we can win the gold. He also thanked the politicians, PAGCOR and other private entities which helped in the funding of the athletes.”
Analysts said the Philippines will not go home empty-handed. Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, gymnast Caloy Yulo, golfer Yuka Saso, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, skateboarder Margie Didal, shooter Jayson Valdez, boxers Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial and other Pinoy Olympians are being touted as future medalists.
A total of P33 million from private sponsors plus government incentives will be given tax-free to a gold medalist.
Ramirez said the Pinoy Olympians are already winners by making it to Tokyo.
“They will serve as inspirations to others. Their stories are worth emulating,” said Ramirez, who is supported fully by Commissioner Ramon Fernandez, Charles Maxey, Celia Kiram and Arnold Agustin.
Ramirez noted that unlike before athletes like Diaz, Yulo and Obiena are getting tremendous support like having foreign coaches, nutritionists, physiologist and other necessary tools to compete with the world’s leading athletes.
“The government is spending billions for sports development. Sports sciences are expensive, searching for talents is expensive. We need to give foreign exposure to our athletes,” said Ramirez.
Meanwhile, only six from the 70 member Philippines delegation will be joining the parade during the opening ceremonies. Marcial and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe are the country’s flagbearers. The men will be wearing cocoon silk barongs with a machine-embroidered pitchera design Muslim inner shirts and light wool black pants.
The women will be clad in cocoon silk short blazers with a machine embroidered front and sleeves and neoprene spaghetti-black inner blouse and neoprene black pants procured by the Philippine Sports Commission from Barong Filipino and Mayumi.
The Philippine Olympic Committee added a Rajo Laurel-designed shawl with a native Filipino touch.
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