PANDEMIC or no pandemic, the coming 2021 Tokyo Olympics present the best opportunity for the Filipino athletes to finally capture the coveted gold medal.
Philippine Olympians Association (POA) president and three -time Olympic swimming representative Akiko Thomson-Guevara believes the Filipino athletes have what it takes to win not just one, but multiple medals, in the world’s biggest sporting event scheduled July 23-Aug. 8 in Tokyo.
“I really think this is the closest we’ve ever been to winning the Olympic gold medal,” said Thomson-Guevara during the special Women’s Month presentation of the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom.
“I hope and pray that we’ll win not just one, but multiple medals in the Olympics. With each passing day, we’re getting closer and closer. Ang lapit-lapit na,” added Thomson-Guevara, the “Poster Girl” of Philippine swimming in the late 80s up to the 90s.
A three-time Olympian in 1988, 1992 and 1996, Thomson-Guevara said gymnast Caloy Yulo, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and even skateboarder Margielyn Didal as among the favorites.
“It’s really very exciting.Ang dami-dami nila ngayon, “ said Thomson-Guevara, who represented the country in the Olympics in 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta
“I’m also hoping Margielyn will make it to the Olympics. Skateboarding is such a new sport and that’s an advantage to her and our country,” explained Thomson-Guevara during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusemens Board (GAB).
The 46-year-old swimming superstar-turned-sports leader admitted the coronavirus outbreak affected sports worldwide since last year.
“I sympathize with our athletes. It’s been such a long and hard year for them and it’s difficult to maintain that kind of fitness level with all those uncertainties,” claimed Thomson-Guevara, who also won a record eight gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games from 1987 to 1993.
“Sa umpisa, hindi mo talaga alam kung matutuloy or hindi yun Olympics. You don’t know what the games would look like with this pandemic. You don’t know how the games would look like without the fans. I know it would be a lot different from the games we used to know. But then again we also know the whole world is in the same situation right now.”
“If you ask me, I’ll tell our athletes to just keep their focus. Ilan months na lang, pagtiyagaan na nila. The life of an athlete is so short lived we can only be at this competitive level at a certain time. So I just hope they can keep the fire, the focus and the hunger.”
Thomson-Guevara, who also served as PSC commissioner, said the athletes should be proud of their achievements regardless of the results of their Olympic campaigns.
“I know the country is just so proud of our athletes and how they manage to sustain and maintain and just to get this far in their career.”
Asked about the plans of POA, Thomson-Guevara said the group is now preparing a database of all Filipino athletes who have represented the country in the Olympics since 1924.
“The POA Board finds it hard to get the needed background and information of every Olympian of our country. The PSC and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) are also still trying to compile these records. Sabi namin, we have to pursue it now,” added Thomson-Guevara.
She also said the POA is planning to lobby to the Congress for an amendment to the Athletes Incentives Act.
“Sana maisama na rin ang ating mga Olympians para mabigyan ng kaukulang tulong pinancial,” explained Thomson-Guevara.
“Madami na din tayong mga Olympians na dumaranas ng hirap sa buhay at nararapat lamang na matugunan din ito ng ating pamahalaan bilang pagkilala sa kanilang kontribusyon sa Philippine sports.”
Also present during the weekly session are taekwondo champion-coach Janice Lagman-Lizardo and duathlon bronze medalist Pawie Fornea of Philippine Navy.Publication Source : People's Tonight