Only 3 sports can produce first Olympic gold — PSC

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — IF Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez will have his way, he likes to focus only on sports where the country stands a chance of winning a first ever Olympic gold medal.

And he mentioned boxing, taekwondo and wushu “if ever it becomes a regular sport in the quadrennial meet” as the likely events where the Filipinos can stand out.

Unfortunately, the current setup in Philippine sports wouldn’t allow him, or any would be sports czar, to do just that.

“Mahirap dahil ang mga NSAs (National Sports Associations) autonomous yan. The same thing with the POC (Philippine Olympic Committee). So we just can’t tell them to do what we want,” said Ramirez, fresh from a three-day trip to Guangzhou, China, where he accompanied a 28-man RP delegation that will be training for two months as part of its preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Personal interest of local sports officials also hinders what Ramirez believes would be the ideal way for the country to finally end a long, long Olympic gold medal drought.

“Kami anytime puwede kaming matanggal. But will the NSA presidents allow that on their part? Hanggang accountable sila sa kanilang mga trabaho at posisyon, walang mangyayari dito. Lagi na lang itong puro usapan at salita,” he said.

Given the power and chance to do it, Ramirez offer two formulas.

“Kung ako lang naman, let’s talk about focus sports. And then I will sit down with the NSAs concerned and magka-alaman na kami kung sino ba talaga ang may
tsansa,” the PSC chairman said.

In particular he mentioned Asian Games boxing gold medal winners Violito Payla and Joan Tipon, along with Olympic veteran Harry Tanamor as the best bets for a probable Olympic gold in next year’s Summer Games.

“Other sports like fencing, shooting and gymnastics, meron din namang tsansa, but very tight na,” Ramirez said.

A total of 15 focus sports, made up of 60 athletes, had been initially identified by the PSC as potential medalists in the Beijing Games.

The First Gentleman’s Foundation (FG) under Miguel Arroyo pledged a total amount of P250 million as part of the RP contingent’s training and actual participation in the Olympics.

A batch of five sports left the country last week for China as part of the Filipino athletes’ training under the FG Olympic program.

Meanwhile, the PSC released yesterday the list of coaches accredited by the China International Sports Exchange Center (CISEC) to train the Filipino athletes currently based in Guangzhou.

Most notable of the names were Chen Baijan, the male gymnastics coach of two-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist Huang Huadong, and Zhong Chengean, weightlifting coach of former world champion Liu Ziuhua.

The rest had to be verified first by the PSC as most of them were listed as multiple gold medal winners.

“We’re asking clarifications on their records kung ‘yung mga gold medals ba nila is from the Olympics, world championship or national championship,” said