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24 March 2006

on sporting australia and the state of philippine sports

australia is a sporting country. it is easily one of the top medal-producing nations in the world. what amazes me is that australia has a population of only 20 million people. that’s roughly the size of metro manila.

every now and then, i would try to catch many of these sporting events on tv. after all, top australian athletes can break existing world records anytime and anywhere. at the 2006 melbourne commonwealth games, for instance, lisbeth lenton, jessica schipper, liesl jones and sophie edington easily produced world record-breaking feats in the swimming events. they were minutes and seconds ahead of the other competitors. quite frequently, i ask myself why the philippines could not even produce athletes of such caliber.

it has never been the case of not having the right genes or not being able to obtain the proper nutrition. but philippine sports are in dire need of world-class coaches and sporting officials to keep it running. right now, we have mostly corrupt politicians and their minions running the show. in their myopia, these officials are just too happy to see our athletes winning over countries like indonesia, thailand, or malaysia.

it shouldn’t be enough for filipinos to rejoice over a victory in southeast asia. the truth of the matter is, many of our athletes are doing well in regional sports in spite of dodgy sporting officials. still, philippine sporting officials have no business gloating over barangay-level achievements. there has to be more selflessness to enable our athletes to do better.

i will never give up on the young athletes of the country. certainly, philippine sporting officials have failed miserably. but i know the athletes are staying on because they always have passion and unwavering commitment in spite of poor facilities, less incentives and corrupt management. filipino athletes are always waging the fiercest battles by going against the grain.

it would be more glorious for filipinos not to be too obsessive over boxing and basketball. i reckon the country can do very well in soccer, swimming, diving, athletics, even figure skating. filipinos are a creative people to begin with. but most importantly, philippine sports need committed sporting officials who can truly direct the state of philippine sports to a world-class level.
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olympic, world and commonwealth champions liesl jones, lisbeth lenton, sophie edington and jessica schipper

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