Sports Eye

It’s still palakasan in Philippine sports

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.


THREE weeks from now and the much-awaited Asia’s sports spectacle the 2018 Asian Games will officially kicks off in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia on August 18 and ends on September 2. Unlike the 2014 Asiad held in Incheon, South Korea with 37 countries involved, the quadrennial meet this year will be participated in by forty two countries headed by perennial and defending champion China and perpetual runners-up South Korea and Japan.

The Philippines placed 22nd four years ago garnering only one gold, three silver and 11 bronze medals. One of our worst performances since the time we joined the Asian Games in 1951 in New Delhi, India that participated in by just 11 nations. We won five gold, six silver and eight bronze medals to land third in overall tally after Japan and the host India. Because of political beliefs during that time, communist countries like China, North Korea, North Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, to name some, were barred from joining the Asiad as per the policy of the world sports’ governing body the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Manila hosted the 1954 Asiad winning 14 gold, 14 silvers and 17 bronzes to finish second overall after Japan. That was our best performance in the history of our Asian Games stint. After 1954, we gradually declined until we got our worst performance in 1974 Iran Asiad by not winning any gold but just two silvers and 11 bronzes. That was really embarrassing and big humiliation for us. But before the 1974 Games, the IOC eventually opened the door for communist states to join the Asiad after a long thorough deliberation. Japan topped the event, Iran landed second and the neophyte China amazingly finished third.

Four times in the history of Asian Games that the Philippines collected only one gold starting in 1970 Bangkok Asiad courtesy of boxer Ricardo Fortaleza. The others were in 1990 Beijing by pugilist Roberto Jalnaiz, 1998 Bangkok in double-billards by cue artists Romeo Villanueva and Gandy Valle and in 2014 by BMX Fil-Am cyclist Daniel Caluag formerly from Bulacan province. If not for these five people especially the U.S based Caluag who almost did not make the trip then, we would have been relegated with those who couldn’t make at least one gold. Thanks to them.

Observers, including this writer, then knew something was really wrong with our national sports development. We have been deteriorating since because of the palakasan system that controlled many of our national sports associations.

Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentevella questioned Philippines chief d’ mission Richard Gomez about the inclusion of women’s volleyball contingent composed of 24 people which according to Puentevella is an event where we are not a medal contender while his SWP are perennial medalists. Still Gomez cut his wrestling group to just seven players. Gomez, concurrent head of the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) said the Philippines is sending its biggest delegation to this year’s Asiad with only 272 athletes and 63 officials given the P72M budget provided by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). He insists the PH team is on belt-tightening mode when he cut the delegation of cycling from nine to seven players. (Our very own 2018 Le Tour de Filipinas champion El Joshua Cariño of Mangaldan and this year’s Ronda Pilipinas winner Ronald Oranza of Villasis were excluded in the national team. That’s very unfair.

Obviously, the palakasan system continues to rear its ugly head to this day.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. ROMANS 1: 18

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