5 questions for Peping Cojuangco after the Olympics
MANILA, Philippines -- After the end of London 2012, the Philippines failed yet again in its bid for an Olympic medal.
It has been 16 years since the team has had an athlete finish in the top 3 since Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco won a silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The 11-person contingent has also been the smallest Philippine delegation sent by the country since 1936.
As Filipinos look for answers over the Philippine team's dismal performance, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), the organization solely responsible for Filipino athletes competing in the Olympics, is under the spotlight. Following team Philippines' consecutively disappointing Olympic runs, questions and doubts over the POC's work and efforts have surfaced.
On Tuesday, August 14, Sen Francis Pangilinan pushed for a probe of the POC and the Philippine Sports Commission to assess their effectiveness and efficiency.
"There could be some things that we fail to implement, and things we are taking for granted,” Pangilinan said in a statement asking to review the efforts of both agencies.
"There are certain minimum standards that we must always strive to achieve if we want the rest of the world to take us seriously in sports," he added.
Rappler caught up with POC chairman Peping Cojuangco via email, to ask him about his thoughts on the recent Olympics. Cojuangco has been in position for almost 8 years or two Olympics, and plans to run for a third term.
What are your thoughts on the Filipino athletes’ performance in the Olympics?
Even before leaving for London, I already said that it would be difficult to predict how they would perform because I felt that our athletes were not prepared enough and it was difficult to assess the opposition. But whatever the results may be, our athletes will not put our country to shame.
That is exactly what happened in London. Most of our athletes started fairly well but did not have enough stamina to finish well. Others showed their lack of competition experience. And to top it all, a big majority of the athletes competing in London were better prepared than before as shown by the many Olympic and world records that were broken.
How do you feel about the fact that this is the smallest delegation the country has sent since 1936 and that this is the 4th Olympics that the Philippines have failed to medal?
As compared to the past, you must now qualify to participate in the Olympics. In other words, except for athletics, who were allowed two entries, all the rest had to be ranked around the top 50 athletes in their sport to be allowed to participate. The small number is also the result of the policy practiced in the last administration under Chairman [Harry] Angping who reduced the number of athletes supported by the Philippine Sports Commission from almost 1000 to a measly 200.
To make things worse, Angping chose the athletes because of political reasons rather than abilities. If you will examine the people appointed as Commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission in the past, you will see that most had no sports background and were political appointees.
What improvements does the Philippine Olympic Committee want to pursue in the future to ensure better results?
We are starting now with the help of the Philippine Sports Commission whose Commissioners have all very good records in sports. These are what I have been mouthing ever since I became President of the Philippine Olympic Committee.
First and foremost ‐ better nutrition for our athletes; our athletes are fed with what they are given and not necessarily what they need. The allowance they are given is not only for their needs but also of their families. Most of our athletes do not get to take any vitamins or supplement. Some buy a little from their measly allowance and often it is not what they need.
Second is, we need a training center where our athletes can be quartered so they can be fed the food that they need for their sport and the time that they have to eat them. In a training center, they will be able to train the way they should and at the right time supervised by an expert in sports science together with their respective coaches.
What do you think are the biggest reasons for the Philippine team’s failure to medal?
The absence of a training center where the latest in sports science can be applied in their physical conditioning for me is the biggest reason. If you will look at the gold medal winners in London, you will immediately notice the practice now of reducing body fat to at least 7% or lower. The idea now is not to develop muscle or gain weight but to strengthen the movements you need for your sport.
How do you feel about Sen Francis Pangilinan's push for a review of the tenets of the Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee to see if there are things they could do better?
What is needed to be revised is the value that the government will give to sport. Sports is not only winning of medals but also an integral part of growing our citizens properly. All the countries in the world have a sports training center. We not only have one but we have sports with no training facilities.
Like in every international competition that we participate in we have these so called “experts” criticizing our performance without giving any positive suggestions. What they propose is always for change but they never mention what kind of change is necessary. I hope we can finally make a decision on what we want to do with our sports. The importance that we will give to it in respect to our way of life. - Rappler.com