Kinder diagnosis from Indonesian Asiad
By Recah Trinidad
05 Sep 2018
POC president Ricky Vargas.
It’s easy to say that our women athletes, led by marvelous lifter Hidilyn Diaz, have helped breathe hope into lagging Philippines sports.
Female competitors accounted for all four gold medals the national contingent brought home from the 2018 Asian Games. Not enough, but compared to only one gold medal from Incheon four years ago, that could already count as a mini haul.
Minus the foul and ugly judging in boxing, at least two male fighters could’ve improved the number of Filipino victories.
The official gold medal tally for the Philippines: Women 4, Men 0.
When POC president Ricky Vargas was asked to make a prediction before they left for the Indonesia Games, he refused to tick off a definite number. Instead, Vargas said they should be able to improve in the standings.
After the 2018 Asiad, the Philippines moved up three notches from Incheon—from 22nd to 19th overall.
Did Vargas have any idea how strongly his women athletes would deliver?
Vargas, in his neophyte year as POC head, was in no mood to beat his breast.
He instead issued a battle cry. There’s so much work to be done, he declared.
He definitely wanted rebuilding and redirection in the NSAs (national sports associations)—the sooner, the better.
Swimming and athletics failed to collect a single medal, not even pop a bottle crown, from the Indonesian campaign.
But Vargas need not look far if he has to train a finger at associations that need to be revitalized.
It’s like this: After Rogen Ladon, lone Filipino boxing entry in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, melted and was instantly blown out in his Olympic debut, the head man of the boxing team cried: “What happened?”
Ed Picson, executive director of the Alliance of Boxing Associations in the Philippines (Abap), insisted they had given and done everything possible to prepare Ladon.
An exasperated Abap president Ricky Vargas replied: “Just leave everything to Manny Pacquiao.”
That could indeed be the best solution at hand: Give the sport to a more competent manager.
After that dismal failure in Rio, boxing failed to deliver the urgent gold medal in Indonesia, no thanks to a wornout training system and very shallow talent search program.
For the record, foul judging had always been around, even when Mansueto Velasco won a silver medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, or when Anthony Villanueva was robbed of the gold in the 1964 Olympics.
To be fair to the Philippine boxing team, it was able to score a big point in Indonesia after Picson started raising a howl over foul judging. He warned (“the clock is ticking”) that boxing was in danger of being excluded from the Olympic Games due to anomalous conduct of judges and officials.
The International Boxing Federation (Aiba) has vowed to work for immediate reforms.
Anyway, as could be expected, nothing happened to that frantic call for Sen. Pacquiao to take over the amateur boxing. Maybe it had been taken as slip of the tongue, or a harmless joke.
Vargas had actually wanted drastic reforms many years ahead. Based on the results and composition of the boxing team in the 2018 Asian Games, there has been no improvement, with the boxing association stuck to its old leaky system.
There’s added gladness and hope following the move taken by Manny V. Pangilinan, chair emeritus of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, who has taken in Yeng Guiao as full-time coach of the national basketball team.
The national team, after a sensational start, failed to land in the medal round, but the Philippines nonetheless regained some degree of respect in Asian basketball.
It would indeed be great if the national team would be maintained as a regular Philippine outfit to international competitions.
As a regular team, the Philippine national squad could be made to play solely for the Philippine flag, without having to sell Chooks-To-Go chicken.
Let’s go Philippines. Laban para sa Bayan!
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