INVEST IN THE FILIPINO ATHLETES EARLY ON
The victory of Filipino weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics should prompt the government to refocus its sports development program from group to individual sports, among other long-time concerns.
At the same time, Diaz’ historic gold medal win is also a wakeup call for the government and the private sector to invest in the Filipino athletes, especially those in the grassroots who may have the potentials of bringing medals for the country, but are deprived of the support they need to hone their skills.
Other than group events, the Philippines is teeming with athletes focu-sing on individual games, but lack the support they deserve to be able to advance to higher level of competitions.
The challenges Diaz had to overcome before her participation in the Tokyo Olympics, which have gone to the extent of “begging” from the private sector, is a testament to the struggles of Filipino athletes in their quest to level up their training to be able to be victorious in international competitions and bring pride and honor to the country.
Despite all odds, Diaz has literally lifted the hopes and dreams of the Filipino nation not only when she delivered the first Olympic gold medal for the country but also changed the narratives about the Philippines in the Olympics with two records.
It is high time the Philippine Sports Commission reviews its sports development policies and to prioritize more the growth of individual sports, which Filipino Olympians have pro-ven to give the country the higher advantage of attaining international prestige.
Aside from weightlifting, the other individual sports Filipinos excel in are boxing, golf, and taekwondo among other events.
This excellence has been proven by other individual athletes who participated in the Olympics like taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa; golfers Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan, and Juvic Pagunsan; boxers Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno, Carlo Paalam, and Eumir Marcial; gymnast Carlos Yulo; and skateboarder Margielyn Didal.
For sure, there are other athletes who are equally talented and are only waiting for the opportunity to be discovered or who have been training hard, but lack financial and other support.
This is also where the private sector could help the government and start investing in the Filipino athletes, especially those in the grassroots level.
Investing in an athlete should start from the time they are honing their skills, and not only when they have already made their names in the national and international sports arena.
More than celebrating their victories when they bring home the bacon, the government and the private sector must also start cheering on the Filipino athletes while they are still working hard on their training and provide financial and other forms of assistance they need to uplift their spirit and increase their chances of performing better in their competition.
Feeding, clothing, and providing accommodation, aside from giving financial assistance, to the Filipino athletes while they are still making a name for themselves are only among the ways to invest in these individuals who are not only pursuing their passion, but are also working hard for national pride and glory.