My five cents' worth
WE struck for silver but failed to win a gold medal at the recently-concluded Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro but then Filipino athletes will definitely have better chances of getting gold medals, plural, at the 5th Asian Beach Games (ABG) scheduled Sept.24- Oct. 3 in Da Nang, Vietnam.
The ABG is definitely not at the level of the most major Asian meet, the Asian Games or even with the long-running South East Asian Games ( SEAG ), but for the past years, it has been growing steadily and this year, there are a total of 22 events to be contested though the Philippines, with 72 athletes, will only be in 11 of them, namely, jujitsu, kurash, beach athletics, marathon, swimming, muay thai, 3x3 basketball, beach volleyball, sepak takraw, pencak silat, wrestling and rowing.
Two years ago in Phuket, Thailand, we won three gold medals, courtesy of Gaylord Coveta in windsurfing and in jujitsu with Annie Ramirez and Maybelline Masuda adding two more though Ramirez will be the only holdover among the three this year.
And as far as chef de mission Karen Tanchanco-Caballero is concerned, we should be able to match that 3 gold-medal finish in 2014, we also won two silvers and 3 bronzes in Phuket.
She is banking on again jujitsu with Annie, kurash where two-time SEAG champion Gilbert Ramirez will be our best bet, muay thai with Philip Delarmino, men's cross country in athletics where 2015 SEAG gold medal winner Christopher Ulboc is competing, the long jump as recent Rio Olympian and veteran Maristella Sunang is doing the long jump, and possible in the marathon swimming with the pair of Olympian Jessie King Lacuna and 2015 triathlon gold medalist Claire Adorna joining in the 10K distance race while Adorna will be in both the 5K and 10K distance races.
Now why do I know all of this information ?
Well, I was at the weekly PSA Forum in Shakey's Malate and the first set's guests there were Karen, accompanied by official outfitter Bo Athletics represented by Jeffrey Lo, Senior VP and Marielle Ardiente, Sr. Asst. VP from SM Men's Fashion Group.
The first time that this young brand has involved in Philippine sports at this level as it is providing all the uniforms for the Philippine delegation made up of 72 athletes, 22 coaches and 18 secretariat medical team members.
Karen , a former national archer in her earlier days and also a mountain biker and climber, was a bit nervous as it was her first appearance in the PSA Forum which I helped arrange upon the request of POC Chairman and my long-time old and older friend Tom Carrasco, who will also be joining the ABG delegation but was not present at the PSA Forum.
I believe she has reason to be hopeful as the athletes she will be bringing are among the different sports' current best and veteran internationalists for some though there are also collegiate players in the team like in beach volleyball where two players from Arellano University have been chosen, of course it helped that LVPI Vice- President Peter Cayco, whose family owns Arellano University, offered to fund the travel of their players so as not to burden the team for that expense.
Peter, another familiar face from way back PABL days in amateur basketball, was the other guest and he also shared some of the latest developments in local volleyball, including the good news that the Philippines will be hosting at least one international tournament every year until 2018, including next year's Asian Women's Senior Volleyball Championship, and I do not believe this is for senior citizens like me, okay.
I was also happy to hear that Arellano University has been offering athletic scholarships to national team members with Kirstien Alora, another recent Olympian, taking the offer.
Going back to the ABG, I got a chance to chat with the two senior SM Group officers and as they shared later with the other media people at the forum, this is not the last time for sure that Bo Athletics will be involved in supporting national teams and indeed what is better than Filipino athletes in international competitions being outfitted by a Filipino brand.
According to Marielle, SM was invited by the POC itself to lend support to the ABG delegation and there was hesitation on SM's part, I reminded them that as far as I know, SM has given the single biggest sponsorship to an individual Filipino athlete, ice skater Michael martinez, to the tune of around P40M worth spread out over four years, this aside from supporting National University athletes, well, the Sys own NU too.
Karen also shared some news about her own NSA for sepak takraw, where she is the current Sec-Gen and soon to be President, the NSA will sending 13 athletes for a one month training in Thailand under one of the best, number one in fact in the world trainer, as part of their preparation for the World Championship which will also be held in Bangkok.
This is the same lady who prevailed on the POC leaders to come up with entirely new designs for uniforms for athletes, particularly millennial athletes saying athletes should wear uniforms they can swagger in and it helps their confidence level, well, that is why I have always been saying that for most of the old local sports officials, it is time to give way to younger ones who can come up with fresh approaches and new programs for the Filipino athletes.
In closing, I wish our ABG delegation the best of luck in their hunt for the gold in Vietnam, and I also wish that someone brings me a souvenir from that event, paging Karen and Tom, please, thank you in advance.