After Tokyo, Paris beckons


SPORTS leaders will use the same template that won the country its first Olympic gold medal—on top of two silver and one bronze medals—in Tokyo.

Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino agreed that there should be an earnest effort to maintain—more so to polish further—the same model that saw Hidilyn Diaz winning the women’s -55 kgs of weightlifting title in Tokyo.

Cutting-edge scientific training backed by sound funding are key to repeating, or even surpassing, the Philippines’s best-ever Olympic performance in the 32nd edition of the Games.

“We have to be serious if we would like to sustain the momentum from the Tokyo Olympics,” Ramirez told Tuesday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum. “It’s not only funding that is needed. As a sports educator who have travelled the world, it is really extremely important that we provide cutting edge sports sciences that we aimed for in the Philippine Sports Institute.”

Tolentino agreed with Ramirez but stressed the private sector should be a major stakeholder if the country wants to perform better in the Paris 2024 Olympics and beyond.

“The government can’t do it alone, and the help of private sector and the assistance of one NOC (National Olympic Committee) to another are imperative to achieve the goal,” Tolentino also told the forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Milo, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

Both sports leaders also agreed to keep their focus on the 19 athletes who competed in Tokyo, all of whom, Ramirez and Tolentino stressed, already have Olympic experiences and “should be good for medals in Paris.”

The forum could go down as the most star-studded in memory with Diaz, boxing silver medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam and bronze medalist Eumir Felix Marcial sharing the spotlight together for the first time since the Olympics.

Diaz won the weightlifting gold on July 24, a day after the opening ceremony, while the boxers got theirs in the homestretch of the Olympics that ended on Sunday.

Asked if they will be looking forward to returning for the Paris Games three years from now, the medalists gave varied reactions.

Diaz, 30, said she and her team will be evaluating her viability to defend the gold in Paris.

“I and my team will be thinking about it. If I agree to compete in Paris, it will be three years of sacrifice and training,” Diaz said.

Diaz did not give herself a timetable on when to decide whether or not she’ll vie for a second gold medal.

“My body will help me decide, and my coaches will be crucial in making the decision,” she added.

Tokyo was Diaz’s fourth straight Olympics—she competed as a 17-year-old wild card in Beijing 2008, an unfortunate participant in London 2012 and a silver medalist in Rio 2016.

All three boxers, on the other hand, vowed to go for the gold in Paris.

“Walang hinto hangga’t walang ginto [until the gold is won, there’s no stopping],” Petecio said.

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