THE deadly coronavirus pandemic may have disrupted almost all sports in the whole world, but the Filipino athletes can take heart and make the most of the situation.
Two-time Olympics veteran Eric Buhain said the pandemic could also be a blessing in disguise for the Filipino athletes.
“Think positive (even during this pandemic). That’s the best way to do it right now. I would like to look at it that way,” said Buhain during the third “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom.
“Let’s take advantage of the situation and train harder during the extra time we have because of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics due to the pandemic,” explained Buhain in the two-hour public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Buhain, who represented the country in the Olympics in Seoul, Korea in 1988 and Barcelona, Spain in 1992, said longer training and preparations for the athletes could help the country to finally end its gold-medal drought in the Olympic.
“Lahat naman ng mga bansa na kasali sa Olympics ay naapektuhan ng pandemic. Yun iba hindi din makapag-training. But we just have to continue. Can you imagine kung ‘yun ibang maka-kalaban natin hindi maka-ensayo tapos yun mga atleta natin tuloy lang,” explained Buhain.
That’s already a big advantage for us. I think our chances of winning an Olympic gold for the first time, biglang tataas.”
Buhain, architect of the “Miracle of 1991” in Manila where he bagged an unprecedented six gold medals in swimming during the 1991 Southeast Asian Games, said the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics should also give the Filipino athletes more chances to qualify.
“Sa tingin ko, mas naka-pabor itong postponement ng Tokyo Olympics sa iba nating mga atleta, lalo na yung mga hindi pa nag-qualify. Yun mga nag-qualify na, medyo gigil na ang mga yan. Our athletes just have to be more creative, more persistent,” added Buhain, who also served as chairman of the PSC in 2001 and the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) in 2005.
Earlier, Buhain said the Congress Organization in Philippine Aquatics (COPA) is also lending a helping hand in time of the pandemic.
Buhain said the newly-formed association composed of former swimming officials, coaches and friends is providing support to less fortunate members of the swimming community.
“Actually, nabuo na namin ang COPA kasama ang mga kapwa ko swimming coaches at iba pang mga kaibigan bago pa man nagkaroon ng COVID-19,” said Buhain.
“Sa katunayan, kasama sa sa programa namin ang magsagawa ng mga training at seminars. Pero dahil sa COVID-19 pandemic, natuon ang pansin namin sa fund-raising para matulungan ang ating mga kasama na umaasa lamang sa swimming,” added Buhain.
Buhain also said COPA is now at the forefront of providing nlivelihood to members of the swimming community.
“Bukod sa maliit na ayuda ngayong pandemic, nagbibigay din kami ng mga pautang para makapagsimula kahit ng online business ang ating mga coaches at trainers, Natutuwa naman kami dahil madami ang tumutulong,” added Buhain.
The 50-year-old Buhain also supported the call to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to allow swimming competitions to resume soon.
“May mga nauna namang pag-aaral na yun virus, mamamatay sa tubig na may chlorine at acid. Kaya sa tingin ko maari na uling mag swimming competition. Pero syempre, susunod pa din sa mga safety protocols na ipinatutupad,” he explained.
“Sa swimming magka-iba naman ang mga lane pag kumpetisyon. Hindi din naman magkakasama kaya maliit ang tsansa na magkahawaan.” Buhain was joined in the weekly session presented by TOPS and livestreamed on Facebook and You Tube by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) secretary-general Atty. Edwin Gastanes.