PH athletes more driven, inspired thanks to President Duterte's send-off for Rio Olympians
Rio-bound Philippine athletes like Ian Lariba and Hidilyn Diaz agree that President Duterte's send-off only drives them to compete harder for flag and country. Jerome Ascano

RIO Olympics-bound Philippine athletes considered the send-off hosted by President Rodrigo Duterte at Malacañang a big confidence boost that they will put to good use once they plunge into action in the prestigious quadrennial games.

The athletes were inspired by the special attention given to them by Duterte, in what was perhaps the first time in a long while that a Philippine president had such an event, before the bulk of the country's representatives flew to Rio De Janeiro on Saturday for the Olympics slated August 5 to 21.

Table tennis star Ian Lariba, who will carry the flag in the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics, particularly noted that the gesture of Duterte will only give them the drive to compete for the country even more.

“Siyempre, it’s from President Duterte so ‘yung tumatak na statement sa akin is not everyone is given this kind of honor. Malaking bagay na rin po ‘yun. ‘Yung ways niya kasi, iba. So siyempre, kami as an athlete, mas naboost ‘yung confidence namin coming from the President,” said Lariba.

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz also shares the same sentiment.

“Sobrang laki (para sa amin). May tiwala siya sa aming mga atleta,” said Diaz, who will compete in her third Olympics.

As a bonus to the athletes bound for Rio, Duterte also announced during the send-off that he will be increasing their allowance for the duration of the Olympics from $1,000 to $3,000.

For Lariba, though, the most important thing for them is to go all out in the Olympics.

“’Yung sinabi niya, siyempre bonus na lang sa amin ‘yun pero our primary goal is try to give our best kasi ‘yun rin naman ‘yung sinabi niya,” said Lariba.

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