AS PART of its thrust to spotlight how different industries have been affected by the pandemic and how they are conducting their affairs during these trying times, the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) on Tuesday hosted a webinar focusing on sports.
Discussed in particular was the country’s push in the rescheduled Olympic Games later this year and what might hold in the future for Philippine sports, with long-time sports analyst and newspaper columnist Joaquin Henson as resource speaker.
Mr. Henson touched on the nearly a century of participation of the Philippines in the Summer Games and how he believes this year could be a breakthrough one for the country in terms of winning that elusive first gold medal.
The Philippine Star columnist shared that despite the challenges the pandemic has presented to the Filipino Olympic-bound athletes, their chances remain bright.
He cited Filipino-Japanese golfer Yuka Saso as one of the leading lights in the Philippines’ Olympic push.
Ms. Saso is making huge waves in the Japanese golf circuit and steadily building her standing as among the rising stars in the sport globally.
She has yet to formalize her entry but she is deemed a shoo-in, along with another Filipino golfer Bianca Pagdanganan, being in the top 60 in the Olympic qualifying rankings.
Ms. Saso is currently at number 22 while Ms. Pagdanganan is 43rd.
Mr. Henson is also high on gymnast Caloy Yulo, who he believes has made significant headway in his preparation in Japan and has “many aces off his sleeves.”
Filipino boxers Eumir Felix Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio, and Carlo Paalam should provide medals for the country in Tokyo, one could well be a gold medal, he added.
The other Filipino athletes who have qualified to date for the 2021 Olympic Games are pole-vaulter EJ Obiena and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.
Mr. Henson also lauded the efforts being put in by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to shore up the country’s Olympic program and, in general, the sports affairs here.
While he admitted things could still be better, the commitment and direction the PSC and POC have shown are to take note of and build on.
The long-time basketball and boxing analyst went on to underscore the role that the private sector can play in partnership with the country’s sports agencies, particularly in providing funding, if not for whole programs, at least in sponsoring elite athletes particularly in sports where Filipinos can really excel in.
He was happy to report that such has been steadily picking up with organizations like the MVP Sports Foundation of Manny V. Pangilinan, International Container Terminal Services, Inc. of Enrique Razon, the Ayala Group and the San Miguel Group are very much in the mix of supporting different sports here.
“The public-private partnership for sports now is strong. [It’s a welcome sight to have] the private sector in the wagon,” Mr. Henson shared.
Moving forward, Mr. Henson said he sees further improvements for sports in the country, but reiterated the need to build on the gains that have been achieved and continue to fine-tune the system in place.
“I think the pathway for athletic excellence has been laid. We’re on the right path and the future looks bright.”
GPCCI, for its part, said it was good to see that the sports sector in the country is staying resilient amid the pandemic just as it expressed its willingness to help Philippine sports in its own way.
“We are the German chamber and we’re active in everything trade-related between the Philippines and Germany and not so much in sports, although there are some links there, but we’re open to suggestions as to how we can help,” said Dr. Martin Henkelmann, GPCII executive director. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo