THE triumph of weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and the Team Philippines in the recent Tokyo Olympics could open more doors of opportunities for the Filipino athletes in future international competitions.
Two-time Olympian Eric Buhain believes the success of Diaz and boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam and Eumir Marcial proved that the time-tested partnership of the government, represented by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the private sector is crucial to sports development.
“Hanggang ngayon napapaluha ako pag pinapanood ko yung awarding ceremony ni Hidilyn, pati na pagkanta ng national anthem. Bilang isang atleta, yun talaga ang pangarap namin,” said Buhain during the 114th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom yesterday.
“Hindi man tayo pinalad na manalo sa Olympics, yun tagumpay ni Hidilyn ay tagumpay ng lahat ng mga atleta pati na ng sambayanan. Kaya naman very proud talaga ako,” added Buhain during the weekly public service program sponsored by the PSC, Philippne Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
A two-time Olympian in 1988 Seoul and1992 Barcelona, Buhain said Diaz winning the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal after 97 years demonstrated the Filipinos’ talent even in the world’s biggest sporting stage.
It also serves as an inpiration for all athletes that the Filipinos can really excel in sports.
“Kapag talaga nagtulong-tulong ang lahat from the government to the private sector sa training ng ating mga athletes, malayo ang mararating natin,” added Buhain, who was also recently enshrined as one of 10 newest members of the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame (PSHOF).
Buhain claimed the all-out support of the PSC, headed by Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, and the private sector enabled Diaz to get the training and exposure necessary to become world-class athlete.
“That’s the same formula that we should continue to sustain our momentum. Yung Team Hidilyn composed of a foreign coach, a conditioning/training coach, a nutritionist and psychologist, is a recipe for success,” admitted Buhain, who also served as head of both the PSC and GAB.
He also said the pandemic also helped in a way.
“Nakatulong din yung mahabang training niya dahil sa lockdown sa abroad. Nakapag- focus talaga siya sa training sa Malaysia.”
The establishment of the Department of Sports is also needed to sustain the gains of Tokyo Olympics.
“After Tokyo, we cannot relax. Sa tingin ko, winning the gold medal in Tokyo is not enough. After waiting 97 years, gutom na gutom tayo kaya hindi tayo mabubusog sa isang gold medal. So madami pang kasunod yan,” said Buhain, who plans to seek a congressional seat in Batangas in next year’s national and local election.
“That’s why I am in favor of the Department of Sports. Pag meron kang cabinet position, nandun ka weekly sa pulong kasama ang Pangulo. Madali nang lumapit para sa mga kailangan sa sports.”
Buhain insisted the government should also look into giving tax exemptions to private corporations providing support to sports development.
“Sa batas, may tax exemption talaga sa mga donations ng private sector. Pero nararapat ding bigyan sila ng reward bilang pasasalamat like a tax break para mas maraming ma-enganyo na tumulong sa mga atleta,” said Buhain.
“Sa Republic Act natin even during my time as PSC Chairman, any donation from the private sector is tax deductible. I want to enhance it. Kapag nagkaroon ng magandang tax break, mas malaking pondo ang makukuha natin para sa mga atleta. Of course, nandyan na yun PSC at PAGCOR na talagang tumutulong.”
Added Buhain: “Kaya nga po ako ay lalahok sa darating na halalan bilang kinatawan ng unang distrito ng Batangas at kabilang po sa programa ko ang sports.”
“Ang sports ang nagbigay sa akin ng madaming opportunity kaya naman nararapat lamang na ibalik ko ito sa ang ating mga kababayan at atletang Pinoy.”
“Kung maisusulong natin ang mga batas na makatutulong sa atleta, makasisiguro po tayo na hindi matatapos kay Hidilyn ang ating tagumpay sa sa Olympics.”