IN the eyes of Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose 'Peping' Cojuangco, the country is capable of winning five gold medals – yes, five gold medals - in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics now that things are in place for the construction of a training center in Central Luzon.
Speaking before the thanksgiving dinner for athletes who saw action in the recent Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games on Friday night in Makati City, Cojuangco expressed such confidence following an assurance made by Foreign Affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayeteno that the long overdue training center in Clark will be done in time for the country's hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Cojuangco also said a road linking Zambales to Clark passing through the mountains that will make high-altitude training possible is also being fast-tracked by the Department of Public Works and Highways upon the intercession of of the former senator.
Cayetano is the chairman of the organizing committee for the 2019 SEA Games.
"I got an assurance from Sec. Cayetano that for the SEA Games, we are getting our training center for every sport. And I mean every sport," Cojuangco said.
The POC head later said: "Sa Olympics, when we get these things going, sinasabi ko sa mga kausap ko, hindi lang isang gold medal ang asahan niyo, magkakaroon ng limang gold sa darating na Olympics because our athletes are beginning to know what it is all about. We now have the facilities and we know what we need."
When interviewed by the media following his speech, Cojuangco didn't cite where the five golds will be coming from, although he is sure that he will get at least two.
"'Yun ang pakiramdam ko. I don't want to mention the sport dahil mape-pressure lang 'yun. Konting gasolina lang 'yun na high octane eh, ginto na," said Cojuangco.
The former lawmaker also said projecting five golds isn't too high of a number to state.
"I'm being practical. That's not high. Kung high 'yan, dapat sinabi ko 10. 'Yun ang kalkula ko sa mga NSAs natin at mga atleta natin," he said.
Cojuangco sees homegrown talent providing those medals as well as other Fil-foreigners who could contribute to the country's cause of finally winning the elusive gold medal in the Olympics.
For it to happen, however, the training center will have to be a reality soon.
"Without that, walang mangyayari. Mahihirapan tayo," Cojuangco said.
The long-time POC president’s optimism came following a respectable showing in the 5th edition of the Aimag, where the Philippines won two golds, 14 silvers, and 14 bronzes.
"Those silvers and bronzes can turn into gold easily," said Cojuangco.