In Philippine sports, one learns to be grateful for every piece of good news - no matter how small or late in the game it comes. Over the years, nothing much has changed since I last trained and competed for flag and country. But despite the issues, the lack of support, or the politics that continue to hound Philippine sports; to be part of it remains a commitment that athletes embrace.
Less than five weeks to go before the Guangzhou Asian Games and yet many athletes still have not had the opportunity to train or compete abroad. National Sports Associations (NSA) that have the means to send their athletes and coaches abroad for training fare much better than those that depend largely on the support of the Philippine government through its various agencies.
The much coveted international training and exposures are still among those at the top of every athlete's wish list. Still, one of the many things I learned in all those years as an athlete, it was that at the heart of it all was the love for the sport.
As another major event approaches, I wish all athletes especially those in the sports I am and have been part of, the best of luck.
Philippine Rowing Association
The athletes who are competing at this year's Asian Games continue their training at the La Mesa Dam. Their competitors like the Iraqi rowers are training with the U.S. Team while others have been training in Europe for months now. Despite whatever disadvantages that present, the rowers are doing their best (like always) to prepare for the tough races that loom ahead.
Philippine Dragon Boat Federation
At one point the dragon boat team mulled pull-out from the RP Asiad delegation. I had an opportunity to talk with Mr. Ilagan about it and he told me they will not do it if they can help it. They have long waited for the approval of their request to train in LMD. The water there is much similar to the waters of the race course at the Guangdong International Rowing Centre, which I had the chance to see at the Asian Junior Rowing Championships last July.
Their request was recently approved. And they were given ten days to train at LMD before the "qualifying" time trials. That time trial was supposed to happen earlier today. I really hope that both men and women's teams successfully equalled or surpassed whatever time they were supposed to beat. If they did, they would be able to continue their training at LMD until before the Asian Games.
Wushu Federation of the Philippines
At last, the national wushu-sanshou athletes are finally leaving for their training at Shanxi province in China. They were supposed to have a 45-day training there but delays in their departure left with much less than that. It would not have mattered much if their Chinese coach was still around to train them. But he left months ago, leaving an Asiad bound team training on their own. As seasoned athletes, they did what they had to do to prepare. I sure hope, and I'm sure they do too, that all those training will be enough to win the much coveted Gold.
At the end of the day, all athletes who compete for flag and country are heroes. It does not matter if they win or lose the gold, silver, or bronze. Those who know what they experience and do for the love of sport would always think of them as winners.
Mabuhay ang atletang Pilipino!