RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Filipino athletes who are all set and raring to compete welcomed a special visitor to their quarters inside the Athletes Village Monday, August 1 (Tuesday, August 2 in Manila).
It was approaching noon when International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco Jaworski paid the Pinoy athletes a visit.
Jaworski just arrived from an extra-long trip from Manila the night before. With very little rest, she came out to see the athletes to wish them well ahead of the Games.
The IOC official praised the athletes, including boxers Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez, and weightlifters Nestor Colonia and Hidilyn Diaz, for all the hard work they’ve put in prior to the start of the competition on Saturday, August 6.
“Make our country proud,” Jaworski told them.
Four athletes will see action for the Philippines on Saturday (Sunday Manila time) – table tennis’ Ian Lariba, swimmer Jessie Khing Lacuna and the two boxers.
It’s not an easy task to advance, not when it’s the Olympics, where only the best and finest athletes gather and compete once every 4 years.
Cojuangco, a gold medalist in equestrian during the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, knows how difficult it is to qualify and be part of the Olympics.
“To qualify to the Olympics is already an achievement,” she said. The other athletes were out training when she came.
“That’s why I’m proud of them. Everyone here is competitive and everyone wants to do their best. I hope their preparations for these Olympics are enough,” said Jaworski.
She said winning a medal in the Olympics is easier said than done, especially when the athletes are aware that the country has not win any medal in the Summer Games since 1996.
Twenty years of waiting will either end or continue here in Rio.
“Of course, we want medals for the Philippines. I want them to win. But [if] there’s anybody who really wants it most, it’s them, the athletes. We are just here to support them,” said Jaworski.
She said competing in the Olympics is something she could not achieve when she was at the peak of her career as an equestrienne.
“It was also my dream,” said Jaworski.
“That is why I’m very happy for them, because I was not able to get to join the Olympics. And for that I respect them more,” she added.
“I did not get to the Olympics. They did.” – pool report by Gilbert Cordero/Rappler.com