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    PH coach James Lafferty urges Philippine athletes to train sights on Olympics and not on SEA Games, Asiad

    Apr 3, 2014

    FOR American track and field head coach James Lafferty, training for the Olympics and the Olympics alone is the only way to go.

    “Train for the Olympics and nothing else,” he said.

    Lafferty, who is also the chief executive officer of British American Tobacco in the Philippines, has volunteered to train long jumper Marestella Torres in her bid to compete in the 2016 Rio de janeiro Olympics after returning to competitive action following her pregnancy.

    Prior to giving birth, the 33-year-old Torres was the undisputed queen of long jump in Southeast Asia, having won four gold medals in the SEA Games while qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.

    Lafferty, however, made it clear that Torres will focusing on a quest for a gold medal in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore or the upcoming Asian Games this year in Incheon, Korea.

    Instead, the American coach said the long jumper will be zeroing in on the Rio De Janeiro Olympics.

    Lafferty has already caused quite a stir with his statements on his no-rice policy for Torres' diet after saying that “Rice is not an Olympic food. No rice-eating nation wins Olympic gold medals.”

    He sees the SEA Games as one of the lowest forms of competitions in the world as he encourages Filipino athletes to instead focus their training on the Olympics.

    “I’ll be honest and people aren’t going to like it. The SEA Games standard of performance is equal to a top high school meet in the United States,” Lafferty said. “You don’t see SEA Games winners winning gold medals in the Olympics.”

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    Lafferty cited athletes in the United States as a perfect example.

    “In the US, they don’t focus on the Pan-American Games. The US team is focused on the Olympics and along the way, they win the Pan-American Games,” said Lafferty.

    “If I train Marestella for the Olympics, she is going to win the SEA Games and the Asian Games,” Lafferty said.

    Lafferty’s statements came in the wake of the Philippines' continued decline in the overall standings of the SEA Games. It finished seventh in Myanmar last December, the worst placing since the country started competing in the biennial meet.

    Lafferty also bats for focusing and funding only on potential athletes through the help of government and the private sector.

    “It is better to spend on 20 who could win than to spend on 100 and can’t (win). Put your money and make it work,” said Lafferty.

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