Most of us have this wrong notion that Filipinos are athletically superior to athletes who grew up in temperate countries. If African runners can dominate the middle distance to marathon events, then it should follow that Filipinos, who share a similar environment with the Kenyans and the Ethopians, should also be dominating any endurance sport held under the sun.
But why are we not in the top 10 of the New York Marathon and in the IRON MAN? Why are we not tearing it up in the Tour de France? And closer to home, why did our cyclists not dominate their Caucasian counterparts in the recently finished, 4-day, Tour of the Philippines?
Cyclists from the first world have built in advantages - cutting edge bicycles and equipments are just a few of them. You can include scientific based training, nutrition, allowance, psychology and a supportive cycling community that are truly passionate about the sport which we don’t have at a regular basis.
IMO, the reason why we can’t win in our home race is because we don’t have the traditional structure to support cycling. Some pundits have said that if only some companies would start sponsoring cycling teams then we’d be a power in the sport. But that’s like putting the cart ahead of the horse. This structure I’m talking about is a guaranteed, multi-year, 12-month series of bicycle races.
Remember the voice telling Ray Kinsella that if he builds it, he (not “they”) will come? If somebody builds a multi-year series of bicycle races, companies will probably finance a team not because it’s a nationalistic gesture but because it’s a good way to sell their products. But how can you convince a potential sponsor to shell out money when bicycle races are erratic at best?
Malaysia used to be our whipping boy before it started focusing on cycling seriously 10 years ago with the Tour de Langkawi. They sent their cyclists to Australia for training and patiently nurtured them. Now, they have their first medal, a bronze, in the World Championships. We, on the other hand, are still trying to win a medal in the Asian Games!
Cycling is not a popular sport like basketball that’s why it needs government help to make it grow. Unfortunately, government and politics is biggest stumbling block in RP sports. How to get this problem solved is beyond me therefore, I’m not even going into that. Until we can overcome these problems, we will continue to foolishly dream that we are better than others.
Current World Champions are supposed to be cursed. 2008 WC Alessandro Ballan is suspended for doping issues. But 2009 WC Cadel Evans is bucking the trend by winning the semi-classic Fleche Wallone last Wednesday. The Aussie waited patiently in the last 100m to overtake the dying TdF champion Alberto Contador.
Finally, I wasn’t able to send my column last week because I spilt water on the keyboard of the new HP laptop I was writing on! The good thing about it was that my sister, Flom, who ordered it for me, was able to return it with a full refund. Of course, she didn’t order it from here but from the US. – THE FREEMAN