Last Note from Tokyo: What We Can Achieve If Our National Athletes Get Proper Financial Backing - The Scene

Two ice-athletes could use your donations now in preparation for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

READ ALSO: Golden Haul: Here’s What Hidilyn Diaz Is Set To Receive So Far, From Beautiful Homes To Unlimited Flights

With one historic gold, two silver, and a bronze medal, the Philippines came out of Tokyo 2020 as the top-performing South East Asian country in the Olympics. It’s an inspiring example of how our national athletes can achieve recognition in the world’s biggest sporting event, but also a hard reminder of how much financial support they lack. 

To seize the latest opportunity of representing our country, Hidilyn Diaz had to turn to social media to call for financial assistance and express her struggles while preparing for Tokyo 2020 two years ago. At this time, she already won us a silver medal in Rio 2016, but the weightlifter still was short of support. 

In the same year Diaz requested sponsorships, boxing featherweight Olympic silver medallist Nesthy Petecio bagged gold at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Russia. However, becoming a world champion wasn’t enough to secure adequate funding for Petecio.

In fact, Petecio’s Philippine boxing teammate Eumir Marcial spoke out on Facebook to reveal the specific difficulties of being an underfunded national athlete. 

Marcial, who trained in the US, received P45,000 monthly to cover plane tickets, accommodation, food, coaching, supplements, and his personal needs. He adds that if this is the government’s mentality, they shouldn’t aspire for gold medals in the Olympics. However, despite Marcial’s burdensome circumstances, he persisted and took home a middleweight bronze medal from Tokyo 2020. 

In an interview with Lifestyle Asia, Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino shared that our athletes’ initial P100 million budget was cut due to the pandemic. He rallied for the budget to be brought back, but ends were oly met through the private sector’s assistance.

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“In the end, through Bayanihan I, as well as sponsors always helping with whatever is needed for our athletes to be in top, world clworld-classon, that was taken care of,” Tolentino said. 

In spite of the government’s failure in meeting its obligation to our athletes, each of our Olympians carried the Philippine flag with pride. It’s a choice we’re fortunate they committed to because their triumphs peppered us with inspiration and a reason to celebrate amid these times of uncertainty. 

You can support

Since Diaz won gold, Malacanang Palace spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing that they are aware that funding is lacking and notes that athletes may achieve more if they increase the help they provide to athletes. He adds that it’s something the government will look into. 

However, without any clear plans released just yet, there are athletes that we can provide help to right now through crowdfunding.

Filipino figure skater Michael Martinez is the first Southeast Asian athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympic Games. Martinez is setting to compete in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics with the goal to be its first champion hailing from a tropical country.

Eyeing for the gold comes with a corresponding expense of 50,000 USD to cover training, travel, medical, and coaching fees. 

Martinez’s Gofundme page says that figure skating is a pricey sport, and they are currently spending 16,000 USD a month for what’s required. Today, the 24-year-old is training in the US under world-renowned coach Nikolai Morozov and his team. 

Another young ice athlete sourcing for support is short-track speed skater Julian Macaraeg. As our representative, the 18-year-old is taking a gap year from college to prepare for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. 

Macaraeg’s Gofundme page’s goal is to raise USD 10,000 to help cover his training and competition expenses. 

Moving forward

Our Tokyo 2020 four-medal haul entitles winners Hidilyn Diaz, Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Eumir Marcial P18 million collectively by the government as announced by POC president Abraham Tolentino yesterday. 

The large sum is what each persevering athlete deserves, but imagine if the government gave a fraction of the amount to them before achieving their medals. Not just for the victors but also for the 15 other athletes that made up the Philippine team in the Games.

With hope, we are eager to see more developing athletes receive support from our government. In an often divided country, sports have the power to unify and bring joy.

It’s now globally known that Filipino athletes have the capabilities, passion, and drive to fight and win. Moving forward, we anticipate that our athletes will continue to win. But hopefully without the need to fight for what they rightfully deserve.

Banner photo from @eumirmarcial on Instagram.

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