Battered, broken and busted

FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2012 - 12:00am

A supernova of new stars has emerged.   The star galaxy of four years ago has started to fade.   One pool shark has laid claim to the title as the world’s best swimmer by capturing a record 19 Olympic medals. 

China, not content with their bullying territorial claims, also extended their power grab in the world’s greatest sporting event. 

The US men’s basketball team had their opponents awed and bewildered that one even took off his shoe and had it autographed. Two athletes had been banished from the games for insensitive racial tweets.

For 60-plus years, Team Philippines has been a part of the Olympics, sending athletes to participate. Winning medals are just an afterthought considering the level of competition. The 11-man team is now down to 5 survivors and of the five, only boxer Mark Barriga has a twinkling chance of a medal.

Our swimmers floundered in the wake of their opponents, our skeet shooter and archers probably aimed at something else and missed the targets, our lifter had too much weight to carry on her young shoulders. 

At least they competed, represented flag and country, and that is what really matters. So what if they faltered. These athletes are still, in my book, winners. Of the almost 100 million people inhabiting our 7,100 islands (7,100+ during low tide), only 11 were selected to represent the Philippines for the 30th Olympics. If you can’t call them winners, then you’re a loser.

Today, at 5pm, our judo bet, Tomohiko Hoshina, faces South Korea’s Kim Sung-Min in the 100-plus kg elimination round. By our standards, Hoshina is freakishly huge at 5’11’ and 276 pounds.   Don’t be misled by his size, the guy has become a favorite among his teammates because of his easy-going attitude.  

He could have played for Japan but he has chosen his mother’s country of origin. This is more patriotic than all those pseudo-nationalistic individuals and groups who attack the government with protest rallies as long as funds come their way, be it foreign or domestic.

Tomorrow at 8:30 pm, boxer Barriga faces Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan. Both fighters are familiar with each other’s style of boxing as they had been spar mates during the Asian Qualifiers held earlier this year at Kazakhstan.

Barriga needs to win this fight and another one to assure himself of at least a bronze. He is only #43 in the AIBA rankings but he’s confident of a good Olympic showing. If he does make it all the way, he could be facing China’s Zou Shiming, Beijing Olympics’ gold medallist in the light flyweight class and currently IABA’s #2 ranked boxer.

Long jumper Marestella Torres will go to the fields at 2 am on August 8. Breaking the Olympic record of 7.4m and the world record of 7.52m is a very long shot. Breaking her personal best of 6.71m is doable and will be a big accomplishment.

Also on August 8, at 10:30 pm, BMX rider Daniel Caluag will hit the dirt tracks for the men’s seeding round. BMX is a new Olympic sport and I do hope that we will make good in this one.

The last Filipino athlete to see action will be Rene Herrera, who is entered in the 5,000m steeple chase. Herrera’s time on this event is just a second above 15 minutes. He’s almost 3 minutes behind the OR of 12:57.88mins and the WR of 12:37.35mins. If this Ilonggo steeplechaser can go sub-15mins, that would likewise be an achievement.

It has been 16 years since we had an Olympic medal. Maybe London, considering a good number of Filipinos living there, will accommodate us with our quest. Go Pinoy athletes! Go Pilipinas!

* * *

Like the classic Colt 1911 .45 ACP and all its variants when you pull the trigger, a very loud bang to my wife Denden, on her 45th birthday.Also belated birthday greetings to my son, Emil, who turned 21 last week.    - THE FREEMAN


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