Last weekend proved to be a good one for Philippine sports in international competitions with Filipino athletes collaring top prizes in tournaments they competed in.
Gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo and female boxer Nesthy Petecio in just 24 hours in between won gold in their respective fields and in the process made the country proud.
Yulo, 19, made it a double celebration for Philippine gymnastics after bagging the country’s first-ever gold in world artistic gymnastics at the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, on Saturday.
The gold was in addition to his qualifying for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year which he was able to accomplish in the same tournament on Oct. 8 after making the cut in the all-around performances.
In winning gold, Yulo, who is based in Japan to focus on his training, topped in the floor exercise final with a score of 15.300, besting Artem Dolgopyat (15.200) of Israel, who finished second, and Ruoteng Xiao (14.933) of China for bronze.
All-around, Mr. Yulo wound up at 10th in the competition.
Petecio, meanwhile, topped the featherweight division in the 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia, by defeating hometown bet Liudmila Vorontsova by split decision.
Her win ended a long drought for the Philippines in the world championship with the last one coming in 2012 care of Josie Gabuco.
It was a culmination of a solid outing for Petecio in the worlds.
Yulo and Petecio’s feats followed that of other athletes of late like pole-vaulter EJ Obiena, who was the first Filipino athlete to book a spot in the Tokyo Games 2020; weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who won bronze in the world championships in Thailand in September to stay on track of returning to the Olympics; and boxer Eumir Felix Marcial, who won silver 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Russia in September.
For their efforts, the government deemed it fit to reward them with cash incentives.
With these athletes doing well in their respective fields, calls for the country to throw support to other sports, aside from the likes of basketball, volleyball and football.
It is an assertion that is hard to argue with in light of the recent successes of other disciplines which may not be popular among Filipinos but, as we have seen, have huge potential to make things happen.
This is not saying though that we should totally abandon our support for the “go-to” disciplines, particularly basketball which has been taken to task lately, as they, too, deserve to get attention as well.
But if we could find ways to have funding and training support , from government and private sector, spread to more disciplines, and have these sports exposed to more people in the country to be appreciated, the better it would be for Philippine sports as these could well ensure more success in international competitions moving forward.
Let’s rally behind and support the Filipino athletes!
Michael Angelo S. Murillo has been a columnist since 2003. He is a BusinessWorld reporter covering the Sports beat.