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Rio Olympics on my mind

  • Written by Ed Andaya
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 330

LET’S admit it. The chances of winning a medal -- gold, silver or bronze -- in the Olympic Games for our beloved Philippines  is as murky as the Pasig River.

Our athletes -- all 12 of them -- can very well hum to the tune of  Frank Sinatra’s “Impossible Dream”  even before suiting up for this once-in-a-lifetime dream to compete in the world’s biggest sports stage.

The Olympic motto made up of three Latin words of Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger) seemed to have been coined   by Dominican priest Henri Didon in 1881 without the Filipinos and our Asian brothers on mind.
But who really cares?
The Olympics is the ultimate sports event that every avid sports fan looks  forward to every four years.
Never mind that the best and the brightest Filipino athletes carrying the national flag will  be reduced to  mere tourists after only their first day of competition, we  still want to watch the games.
And, in honor of the 31st Summer Olympics scheduled Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro,  Brazil,  I would like to share with you 31 things you want to know about the games.

1) A  record  number of countries  are  participating in a record numberof sports. More than 10,500 athletes from 206 countries  are participating in  28 Olympic sports.
2) Rio 2016 will be held in 33 venues in the host city and five other venues in  the capital of Brasilia, San Paulo Salvador, Belo Horizonte, and Manaus.
3) The Maracana Stadium will be the venue of the opening ceremony  on Aug. 5 and closing ceremony on Aug. 21.
4) Of the  206  countries, two are first-time  participants -- Kosovo and South Sudan.
5) The 28 Olympic sports include rugby sevens and golf, which were added by the  IOC only in 2009. Dropped  were baseball, softball, karate, squash  and roller sports.
6) This will be the first Summer Olympics under new IOC president Thomas Bach.
7) Rio de Janeiro is the first South American city to host the Olympics.
8) During the 2009 bidding, Rio was chosen over Madrid, Spain;  Tokyo, Japan; and Chicago, USA.
9)  It  will be the first time  that the games will be held in a Portuguese-speaking country.
10) It will be the first Summer  Olympics to be held entirely during the host country’s winter season.
11) It will be the third time that the Olympics is held in the Southern Hemisphere.
12) Health and safety concerns about the Zika virus and the doping scandal involving Russia are the two main issues before the Olympics.
13) Of the 306  gold medals at stake in Rio, 47 will be in athletics, 34 in swimming, 18 each in cycling, gymnastics and wrestling, 16 canoeing, 15 in shooting and weightlifting, 14 each in judo and rowing and 13 in boxing.
14) The world’s most popular sports -- basketball and football -- have two gold medals each.
15)  Overall, the United States leads the all-time medal standings from 1896-2012 with 976 golds, 757 silvers and 666 bronzes. Russia is second with 395-319-296, while Great Britain is third with 236-272-272.
16) In 2012 London Olympics, the US bagged 46 golds, 28 silvers  and 29 bronzes. China was second with 38-29-21,  host Brazil was third with 29-17-19, Russia fourth  with 22-25-32 and South  Korea fifth with 13-8-7.
17) In Rio, the United States has the most number of athletes with 554. Host Brazil has the second most number of athletes with 465, followed by China with 413,  France with 395, Britain with 366,  Japan with 330, Canada with 314, Spain with 306 and Russia with 265.
18) Among Southeast Asian countries, Thailand will be represented by 46 athletes. Malaysia has 31, Indonesia has 28 and Vietnam and Singapore have 22 each.
19) As host nation, Brazil has received automatic entry for some sports, including in all cycling events and six places in weightlifting competitions.
20) Kuwait was banned in October 2015  for the second time in five years over government’s interference in the country’s Olympic Committee.
21) Ten  refugee-athletes were allowed by the IOC to compete as independent Olympians under the Olympic flag.

On a local note:
22) The Philippines participated in the Olympic Games in Paris in 1924, making it the first country in  Southeast Asia to compete and win a medal.
23) Since 1924, the Philippines had competed in  every Summer Olympics, except in 1980  Moscow when it joined in the US-led boycott.
24) The Filipinos have won a total of nine  medals in 20 Olympic appearances -- two silvers and seven bronzes.
25) Only three sports have  produced  medals for the country -- five in boxing  and two each in athletics and swimming.
26)  The Philippines’ first medal -- a  bronze  -- came  in 1928 Amsterdam Olympics  courtesy of Teofilo Yldefonso in the  men’s 200m breaststroke on Aug. 8, 1928.
27) Boxing  delivered the country’s  only two  silver medals -- Anthony Villanueva in  the 1964  Tokyo Olympics and Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco in 1995 Atlanta Olympics.
28) The  most productive campaign came  in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles when the eight-man Filipino delegation brought home three bronzes by Yldefonso (swimming/ 200m breaststroke), Simeon Toribio (athletics/high jump), and Jose Villanueva (boxing/bantamweight).
29) Overall, the Filipinos have also won a bronze  medal in 1936 Berlin  (Miguel White/athletics), 1988 Seoul (Leopoldo Serrantes/boxing) and 1992  Barcelona (Roel Velasco/boxing).
30)  In 20  previous Olympic appearances, the Filipinos went home without a medal  and only a sad story 13 times.
31) With Mongolia winning its first  gold medal in the  2008 Olympics, the Philippines now holds the  record for the most medals without a gold.
Not much  is  expected  from this year’s  “Magnificent 12”  now in  beautiful Rio. 
But then again, it’s the Olympics.

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