Romasanta says claim that PH contingent to Rio Olympics unprepared was 'so unfair'
Joey Romasanta with Hidilyn Diaz, the Philippines' first Olympic medalist in 20 years. Jerome Ascano

RIO DE JANEIRO - Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) first vice president Joey Romasanta hit back at a member of Congress who said the 13-man Philippine delegation to the Rio Olympics was unprepared.

The chef de mission of the Filipino contingent took exception to the statements made by PBA partylist Rep. Jericho Nograles that the country should stop sending “half-baked” athletes to the quadrennial showpiece.

“No one, no matter what happens to this 13-man delegation, came unprepared,” said Romasanta.

Nograles said the country should stop sending unprepared athletes to the Olympics, adding he believes it’s a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.

“We should stop sending half-baked athletes who are not even ready to really compete in international competitions. It’s just a waste of government funds and a source of national embarrassment,” the PBA Partylist representative was quoted as saying. "We should train them hard and deploy them only in these international sporting events when we know that they are ready.

“We should not be sending athletes in international sporting competitions so that they can see the world or get some sort of international exposure. We send our athletes to win a medal. We should train our athletes properly and bring out the best in them but, until then, we should stop wasting taxpayers’ money so they can have an excursion,” Nograles stressed.

Romasanta said Nograles' statements were “unfair,” pointing out that all 13 Filipino athletes made it to the Olympics by qualifying for their respective events.

“Para sa akin, it’s an unfair statement. It should be realized na etong pag-qualify sa Olympics is tuluy-tuloy ang ensayo at competition. Hindi mo puwedeng masabi na they came here unprepared,” Romasanta said.

“At least, etong grupo na ‘to, qualifiers silang lahat. Mahirap mag-qualify because when you qualify, you go up against all of the world’s best. Some of them are outright winners, some have good rankings, some have maintained the minimum requirements in their respective events,” he added.

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Romasanta said the Philippines’ performance in this year’s Olympics should even be hailed as it is even better than other countries, noting the case of Austria, which only has a bronze to show after sending a 71-man team.

“Austria had 71 athletes competing in 64 events. Philippines only have 13 and we competed in seven events. But we are ranked higher than Austria in terms of country’s standings. The Philippines is ranked 61, while Austria is 70.

“They also came here with a big delegation and support group as well. Wala na tayong mahihingi pa sa ating koponan. Comparing our efforts to a country which have more than enough funding, malaking performance para sa atin ‘yung preparation and performance natin dito,” Romasanta added.

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