PSC expresses readiness to support athletes in their Olympic push

“WE are ready to support our athletes.”

This was the clear message of Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez as Filipino athletes step up their push in the next couple of months in qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.

Speaking at an online media briefing on Monday, Mr. Ramirez expressed their agency’s readiness to support athletes in their pursuit of their Olympic dreams despite limitations being presented by the pandemic.

The PSC, Mr. Ramirez said, is making sure that ample budget is allotted for upcoming international competitions, including the rescheduled quadrennial Summer Games, while also facilitating in the training of national athletes in accordance with prevailing health and safety protocols.

“As far as budget for international competitions, there is no problem with that. The DBM (Department of Budget and Management) has allotted a budget for their campaign,” said Mr. Ramirez.

The sports official said some P350 million have already been released for the athletes’ international campaign from a total DBM budget of “more or less P700 million.”

To date, seven athletes have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, happening from July 23 to Aug. 8.

They are pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Caloy Yulo, boxers Eumir Felix Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.

The number of qualified Filipino athletes is seen to rise with the different qualifiers set in the coming months for sports like skateboarding, taekwondo, karate, golf, weightlifting, judo, archery, athletics, aquatics, and triathlon.

PSC national training director Marc Velasco, meanwhile, shared that given that face-to-face training for athletes in the country is limited right now because of the pandemic, they are making sure that they give ample support to the athletes, including for their mental health.

He was happy to report that the athletes are responding well and showing focus and hard work as they prepare for upcoming tournaments.

Mr. Velasco cited the national taekwondo team, which is the last team to leave the training bubble at the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, as one example.

“The taekwondo team will be flying to its competition abroad in the next few days and so far, we have not heard or seen difficulties with their athletes. And it is good to see that our athletes are resilient given the limitations. They are steadfast in trying to qualify for the Olympics,” the official said.

Despite the challenges, the PSC is still confident that Filipino athletes will perform at their best come the Olympics.

“Predicting the outcome of the Olympics for our athletes is hard. But those who have already qualified are performing well,” said Mr. Ramirez.

“They have been preparing for this. Their preparation actually had been extended for a year because of the pandemic. And that will play into our hands,” Mr. Velasco, for his part, said.

Adding, “We are giving everything to our Olympic athletes. And, yes, like what Chairman Ramirez said, we are ready to support them.” — Michael Angelo S. Murillo