MANILA, Philippines – Anyone evaluating the Philippines team’s success at the Tokyo Olympics will easily notice that the athletes who handed out medals for the country were bolstered by teams that helped make them formidable contenders here.
But putting these teams together was not cheap.
The president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, knows this. And by issuing marching orders for Paris 2024, be it the same or better, Tolentino says he is ready to take the first step.
“I’ll start asking for money,” he said in Filipino on Sunday.
You don’t seem like you need to be persuasive for people to open their wallets. The Philippine team presented a valid argument in their favor.
“[The national delegation] It showed the power of the Philippines, ”Tolentino said. “In the [Southeast Asian] Games, we won the overall title. Now, we show that we are the best in Southeast Asia. “
In terms of medal quality, the Philippines finished in 50th place with one gold, two silver and one bronze. The next Southeast Asian country in the field was Indonesia, with a 1-1-3 count (gold, silver and bronze).
Before the Olympics came to a close with another show at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday, the United States sneaked past China with a count of 39-41-33. The Chinese, who had led the medal standings throughout the Games, finished 38-32-18.
Hidilyn Díaz won the country’s first gold in nearly a century of participation in the Olympics when she ruled the 55-kilogram category of women’s weightlifting. Her team, which she calls Team HD, consisted of a coach, a strength and conditioning guru, a psychologist, and a nutritionist. The country’s national boxers had the same support, and a bit more, and returned home with two silver and one bronze.
Diaz’s gold changed the narrative of the country. Immediately after posting two Olympic records to beat previously untouchable Chinese world champion Liao Qiuyun for gold, Diaz made sure the message was not lost in the heat of celebration.
“This shows that we can do it,” he told reporters after his victory at the Tokyo International Forum. “They said this was impossible. I thought this was impossible. But the Filipino can do it. We just have to believe. “
And the impact of his victory was felt in the finals that Nesthy Petecio (women’s featherweight) and Carlo Paalam (men’s flyweight) fought. There was a tangible belief that the Philippines not only hoped to avoid defeat, but was actually looking for gold. The two settled for silver, but validated the need for a sustainable team-backed program.
Those four medals were historic for the country and were greeted with an avalanche of incentives, bonuses and promises.
Tolentino also wants donors to look forward.
“We should wait [financial support] after this performance, ”said Tolentino. “In Paris, as long as our programs continue, we should be able to at least match our performance here or, better yet, surpass it.”
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), which spent P2.7 billion for this Olympic cycle, will fund the continuation of the program.
PSC President William “Butch” Ramírez has said he seeks to further streamline and streamline spending, promising to invest more money in sports in which the country can compete for medals at the Olympics.
“It is the correct way to proceed,” Ramírez said.
“We have many athletes who are within walking distance [of Olympic medals] in addition to boxing and weightlifting, “said Tolentino. “There is much more”.
He cited gymnast Carlos Yulo, pole vault EJ Obiena and golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan.
But Tolentino also hopes that the private sector will help the government in the way it did with the country’s current Olympians, helping from the beginning of the program.
Tolentino cited the MVP Sports Foundation, which helped strengthen Team HD and the national boxing team. Golf has ICTSI investing millions in the national program. Athletics also has its financial sponsors such as Ayala Group and CEL Logistics.
Tolentino said funding will be crucial because most of this year’s Olympians are new to the Games and have what it takes to compete in Paris. Only this time, they will bring a much needed experience that will help them in 2024.
Paalam, for example, said the drop that cost him gold would do him good as he sets his sights on the French capital.
“That will help me a lot because I have never been knocked down before and now I learned something from that,” Paalam said.
The entire boxing team has learned some other lessons as well.
“What we probably missed to go to the Olympics was possible exposure to our opponents,” said Don Abnett, the cerebral boxing coach. “Some games in Europe would have been ideal for us.”
Middleweight Eumir Marcial, who went home with bronze, wants another run for an Olympic gold. Irish Magno, the only boxer who did not win a medal, vowed to continue to pursue her dream in Paris, as did Petecio and Paalam.
Yulo intends to make up for a mistake here by “improving” for Paris.
The talent is ready, but adequate funding will be needed to bring in those athletes, and the others waiting behind the scenes for their shot at Olympic glory, in the form of a medal.
“We will find a way,” Tolentino said.
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