Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao called on for the continuous support for Filipino athletes after four Olympians took home medals in the recently concluded 2020 Tokyo Games.
Sangiao, a former Southeast Asian Games gold medalist and now part of the national kickboxing team coaching staff, lauded the Filipino Olympians who braved the two-week quadrennial meet in Japan for bringing success and glory to the country.
Sangiao, the man behind the success of Team Lakay fighters and honed them to become world champions in mixed martial arts, related to the challenges they had to overcome before as part of the national team.
“As an athlete and now a coach, I understand how difficult the road every athlete takes, all those sacrifices, all those challenges, both physical and emotional, all those tireless hours spent when all your body, your heart, and your mind are on the verge of quitting, aside from that is the lack of financial help,” said Sangiao, who bagged gold medal for wushu in the 2001 SEA Games in Malaysia. “But you take it all in, rise up, and continue training. It’s really difficult.
“Sometimes, all we see are the shiny medals and trophies which are a product of all of these agonizing processes. Our support is always big and our applause is always heard in their moments of glory. Sometimes, we only get to know them and praise them in moments where they bring our country glory, in moments where we proudly say that we’re ‘proud to be Pinoy.'”
Sangiao, who was known for the rags-to-riches story of developing arguably the best mixed MMA in the country from scratch, said athletes also need support not only on their winning moments but also on their downfall.
Though there have been pledges left and right, be it from the government or private sponsors, the Team Lakay patriarch highlighted that support should be given from the very beginning until the end of their campaign, recalling the tough times they experienced in their heydays with makeshift equipment and rented facilities,
Weightlifting champion Hidilyn Diaz and bronze medalist Eumir Felix Marcial were just two of the many athletes who were vocal in pleading support via social media.
Irish Magno, who competed in the women’s boxing flyweight division, also shared the same sentiments with Marcial during their preparation for the Tokyo Games. Boxers Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam also bagged silver medals for the Philippines.
Margielyn Didal, the first Olympic skateboarder from the Philippines, has also been echoing her past sentiments of building public skateparks in the country in the hopes of bringing the sport into the limelight and awareness to the younger generation.
“I just hope that for all of our brave athletes’ blood, sweat, and tears, we learn how to understand and support them whenever they win or lose. I wish that in all of their moments, not just during when they are on top, we wholeheartedly shout, ‘Hail the Filipino athletes!'” said Sangiao.