Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fair Play: Will Manny KO our Olympic chances?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's May 25 edition)
EVER since we lost our best chance to win an Olympic gold medal in 1996, our record in the quadrennial meet has been woeful---zero golds, zero silvers, and zero bronze medals in the Syndey, Athens, Beijing and London Olympics.

That’s four straight meets without a medal after winning a bronze in 1988 and in 1992 and that silver by Mansueto Velasco in 1996.

That shows how difficult it is to win a medal, or even qualify for the Olympiad. Our best bet has always been boxing, but lately our boxers can’t even make it past the second round of eliminations. Tanamor, who was then predicted by Sports Illustrated to win a medal in the 2008 Olympics, surprisingly lost in the round-of-32. Mark Barriga had the same fate in 2012 and lost in the second round.


One of the reasons our athletes--and our quick-to-pass-the-buck-sports-officials—use is that we lack government support for sports. While athletes from other countries live like kings, ours live like beggars, relying on the private sector for support as they chase their Olympic dream. If not for MVP’s entry in amateur boxing, our national athletes would have long turned pro so they can start earning for their family.

So, a few days ago, I was particularly happy to learn that in the House of Representatives, they have a special committee for the 2016 Rio Olympics, which supposedly will support our athletes in their campaign to qualify and in the games itself.

Too bad they decided to give the chairmanship to the No. 1 absentee congressman--Manny Pacquiao.

It’s either a cruel insiders’ joke by the congressmen or, like majority of the Filipinos, they edify Pacquiao and thinks he can do anything just because he’s good in boxing.

Like I said in the past, Pacquiao is one of the best boxers of this generation, but he’s clearly out of depth when it comes to actual work in Congress.

In one article that ripped his congressional record, the Associated Press wrote that in the only time Pacquiao decided to join the debates in Congress, he asked questions that were already answered.

If the guy can’t even find his way to Congress, how can he help our Philippine Olympians? And no, “inspiring” them with a few choice words uttered in media doesn’t really work. And yes, all athletes pray for a successful campaign, and a prayer brigade by Manny, played out in the media too, won’t change things because as Freddie Roach says, “God don’t do sports.”

Pacquiao’s appointment means that like in the previous Olympiad, we can’t expect added government support aside from what the Philippine Sports Commission is already providing. Why? The Olympic qualifiers for boxing is in September and by the time Manny decides to play politician again and attend to work, it would be too late.

I could be wrong, of course, but ask yourself this. When was the last time Manny Pacquiao actually did something meaningful in his work as a Congressman?

So, can he really do something as the chairman of the committee for the Rio Olympics?
. In my last column, I initially erroneously mentioned the PVF president as Gener Dungo. That is wrong, Dungo resigned in 2013 and the current PVF president is Edgardo Cantada, who I correctly mentioned in succeeding paragraphs. My apologies.

Ironically, it was Dungo’s resignation that started the rise and fall of the PVF. Wracked by factionism, Dungo’s departure finally got the PVF moving in 2013 and in early 2015, another player entered the scene—the Ligang Volleyball ng Pilipinas.

And of course, until now, the LVPI presence can’t be felt outside Manila.

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