By: James Raphael A. Sicat / The Dominican Gazette
The recent performances of our renowned Filipino athletes in the Tokyo Olympics showed their greatness. Headlined by the first-ever Filipino Olympic gold medal by Hidylyn Diaz in the Women’s 55 kg Women’s weightlifting competition. Nesthy Peteclo, our first-ever Filipina Olympic Boxing medalist, finished on the podium. Carlo Paalam's silver medal performance in the Men's Boxing Flyweight division. And Eumir Marcial's bronze medal win in the Men's Middleweight Boxing Division. Their performances answer the question, can the Philippines rival other juggernaut countries who dominate the world stages if given the proper sports infrastructure, financial support, and full government approval.
Diaz’s struggles in her gold medal journey are well documented, with one of her only support coming from private sectors, which she expressed her gratitude with as it was badly needed to keep her Tokyo Olympic journey on course after the Covid-19 pandemic brought challenges to her agency. That even kept financial support from her because of the poor Covid-19 response of the Philippine government.
After the Philippines' impressive performance in Tokyo, Malacañang admitted that the government funding for the country's athletes was not enough. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque even commented that he compared the athletes’ allowance to a “minimum wage” and said “Titignan po natin kung paano natin mababago ito [We will look into how we can change this].”
The recent developments of sporting facilities in Clark, that was a 9.5 billion complex including a 20,000 seat Athletics Stadium with an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)-certified track; a 2,000-seat International Swimming Federation (FINA)-certified Aquatics Center; and a Athletes' Village, the government should increase its funding more to reach areas that do not have enough sporting resources but have athletes with untapped potential as seen by the likes of Diaz.
As much welcome praise was handed to these sporting developments located in Clark, it garnered behest, as well as the critics, questioning its long-term viability, and people advocated for renovation, not creation. This was respectfully overruled as the much-needed advancements in infrastructure were welcomed by athletes. Vivencio B. Dizon, BCDA President, and CEO said, “Our athletes have waited so long for world-class sports facilities. BCDA is thrilled to be part of the creation of the National Academy of Sports (NAS), and the development of the country’s athletes who will study and train there. With a sports-centered academic program and facilities at par with international standards, we envision NAS to be a cradle for future world champions.”
Other sporting projects such as NAS, which is a secondary school for high-performance athletes created under Republic Act No. 11470, will be scheduled at the end of the year with the help of the Department of Education and the Philippine Sports Commission.
The long-lasting challenges that the Filipino athletes continuously face with the inadequate funding, not enough world-class sporting facilities, and low-level support should be abolished as the accomplishments of Hidilyn and Co shed light that with proper support from the government, the Filipino Athletes will show their world-class abilities in the coming years.