WHILE confident that Filipino athletes seeing action in the London Games are ready to give their best, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Richie Garcia was careful not to raise expectations in the country's latest attempt to end an Olympic medal drought.
“It is safe to predict that our athletes will be giving their best shot in London, but I am not predicting any medal tally,” said Garcia, a guest in the weekly PSA Forum. “A credible performance will be enough to make us happy, but winning a medal would be nicer.”
The country has not won an Olympic gold medal since it began competing in the quadrennial meet in 1924. While it has brought home two silvers and seven bronzes, no Filipino athlete has won a medal of any color since boxer Mansueto `Onyok Velasco's silver-medal finish in the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
In the hands of 11 individuals lay the huge burden of ending that 16-year medal drought.
Boxer Mark Anthony Barriga leads the compact Philippine delegation to the July 27 to August 12 meet, that also included judoka Tokoshina Hoshina, BMX rider Daniel Caluag, shooter Brian Rosario, lady weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, tracksters Marestella Torres and Rene Herrera, swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Lacuna, and archers Rachel Anne Cabral and Mark Javier.
Garcia said declined to pinpoint who among the Filipino Olympians have the best chance to win a medal.
“I think it will be unfair to everyone if I pick one or two athletes. That we will be coming home with 11 gold medals would be a very nice thing to say. But all the best [athletes] in the world will be there,” cautioned the PSC top honcho, who arrived at the forum with PSC executive director Guillermo Iroy.
“But I won’t be surprised if one of them will bring home a medal.”
With the exceptions of archers Caluag and Hoshina, the rest of the Filipino athletes are already in London, taking part in the pre-Olympic training camps put up by the London organizing committee and the International Olympic Committee.
“It’s a good to be there early because you get the chance to adjust to the weather. Papalit-palit ang weather sa London. And we don’t want them to get sick with even the ordinary flu,” he said.
Garcia, a former national golfer, said the PSC has done its share in preparing the athletes.
“But it only goes as far as funding them. The selection and training of the athletes are in the hands of the national sports associations and the Philippine Olympic Committee,” he added.