After the 8-8-8 Games conclude, our score: 0-0-0

Harry Tañamor lost in the first round. Eric Ang lost in the first round. Mark Javier lost in the first round. Henry Dagmil and Maristella Torres lost in the first round. So did swimmers Miguel Molina, James Walsh, Daniel Coakley, Ryan Arabejo and Christel Simms. Sheila Mae Perez lost in the first round. Same with our last hope in taekwondo, Toni Rivero and Thsomlee Go—all ousted in Round One.

The conclusion? It was RP’s worst showing on earth’s greatest show.

Our neighbors, how did they perform? Vietnam won one silver, Singapore won one silver, Malaysia another silver, Thailand one gold and one silver, Indonesia one gold, one silver and three bronze medals—while our nation which proudly claimed to be the 23rd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games champions just three years ago won nula. Kosong. Neoni. Nocht. In plain language you and I understand: itlog.

Why? What happened? Who’s to blame? What do we do?

Those are the 1-2-3-4 worded questions in every one of the 91 million Filipinos’ minds. Here are a few thoughts on our catastrophe….

The world stage has become tougher. Take taekwondo. A Korean martial art that used to be dominated by Asians—not anymore. The entire world has taken notice that this demonstration sport in the 1988 and 1992 Games (before being officially part of the 2000 Sydney Olympics) brings home, for both men and women, a total of eight gold medals. That’s a lot. And so a lot of nations have joined the fray to snatch those medals.

The Olympics, unlike those of decades past, have become brutal, demanding, ruthless. To win gold, or even a bronze, would take not only guts, fortitude and resilience—but also luck.

Another advice? Abandon post. That’s what all our sports leaders ought to do. From Peping Cojuangco to Butch Ramirez to the amateur boxing head Manny Lopez to the various NSA heads—everyone of them—should troop to Malacañang, bow their heads to GMA, then hand over a two-worded letter that reads, “I resign.” Our president must, the week after the Olympics debacle, start with a blank piece of paper for which she can write new names.

A new strategy. That’s also imperative. A grassroots-based sports plan that not only allows our elite athletes to train one, two or three years ahead but decades in advance. Look at China. Look at how they identify and train children as young as five.

We have fallen, no doubt. While other nations have grown, as the Olympic motto reads, “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” which means “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” we’ve achieved the opposite. We’ve slowed, dropped, weakened.

Politics. That’s another reason for our washout and collapse. We fight not only in the political arena but also in sports. Look at basketball. Look at billiards. For all our love for trash-talking, I suggest the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) sponsor a new event in the 2012 London Olympics which, I’m sure, we’ll win gold: Politicking.

But, wait. Wasn’t there news that we won gold last Friday? Yes we did. In the sport of wushu—which is the top advocacy in Cebu of my fellow Rotarian, Francis Onglatco—we won the top medal. Willy Wang, 21, a resident of Manila, won in a sport that had 13 nations competing. The sad part? It wasn’t counted. Wushu is an exhibition sport, which brings back memories of the 1988 Seoul Olympics when Arianne Cerdeña won “gold” in bowling. Sadly, that and this weren’t counted.

I wonder why—if sports like trampoline, kayaking, and team handball are included in the Olympics (plus, a new entry in Beijing: BMX)—bowling isn’t part of the Games? Isn’t this sport of heavy balls and tenpins more popular than, say, trampoline? Or, why not billiards? Isn’t that a game played inside bars and cafes worldwide?

Because if the Olympics included B & B (bowling and billiards) plus another B (pro Boxing), then, with athletes named Paeng and Bata and Django and Manny, we’re sure to clinch gold.

Until then, it’s the same one prize: itlog.

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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