PSC chief favors foreign training of elite PH athletes

Published January 16, 2021, 4:31 PM

by Carlo Anolin

Eumir Marcial SEA Games
In this file photo, Philippines’ Eumir Felix Marcial (left) defeats Malaysia’s Che Azmi Mohd Aswan in boxing’s middleweight semifinals at PICC Forum in Pasay last December. (MB File Photo)

Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez said the foreign training of elite national athletes is a huge boost as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympics and Southeast Asian Games.

Speaking to the Manila Bulletin Friday, Ramirez said there are several challenges that the sports agency need to overcome as far as training is concerned.

“There are things that are beyond my control like money requirement and putting up a scientific cutting edge [technology] where we can measure the capacity of athletes,” said Ramirez.

The sports chief admitted that countries such as the United States offer a different approach for the development of athletes.

That is why when Olympic boxing bet Eumir Felix Marcial wanted to try the professional rank on US soil under famed coach Freddie Roach, Ramirez believed that the Zamboanga-native boxer would reach a higher level of confidence come the coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics in July.

Other elite athletes such as world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz are also training overseas in the hopes of bringing the first Olympic gold medal for the country.

“Wala talaga tayong dominant sport na nagbibigay ng medal except for Hidilyn Diaz,” added Ramirez, who’s been holed up working at his satellite office at PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

The PSC leadership added that the coronavirus pandemic also affected the training of athletes in a big way, such as the delay in the arrival of more equipment and the training venues being converted into makeshift quarantine facilities last year.

“But in due time, itong taon na ito, baka ma-comply namin ‘yung requirement, magkaroon tayo ng decent institute of sports dito sa PhilSports.”

Fortunately for other Olympics hopefuls in boxing, taekwondo, and karate, delegates have started to arrive in “Calambubble” at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna for the 90-day training camp in preparation for qualifying tournaments.

With a safer and more convenient venue, plus the 360-degree support of Inspire, these national athletes seeking Olympic berths will get to maximize their training sans the mental stress and dilemma brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, Yulo, Obiena, Marcial, and Irish Magno have passed the Olympic grade for the Philippines.