Inspire a generation

- Annie Fe Perez - The Philippine Star

When Effie Trinket, the character of pink hair and stout stature, opened the bloody Hunger Games, the capitol cheered. While the game went on, it was broadcasted to millions. Everyone paid attention to the candidates who resorted to killing one another until only one lived.

However, when Queen Elizabeth opened the London Summer Olympics, the Filipinos did not cheer. We did not even rejoice for our athletes. The free TV coverage of the opening ceremony was unheard of. Only a few made an effort to wait for the Philippine Team to pass into the stadium and wave our flag.

For 21 years, the Philippines has been abreast in joining the Games. In fact, we were the first country in Southeast Asia to send delegates and win a medal in the 200 meter breaststroke. Although we have not bagged the big G yet, we do hold a good number of medals from the Olympics.

The Olympic Games only comes once in four years, enough for anyone to watch once or twice as a child. Maybe four times as a teenager. It is a historic event held in a chosen key city. According to legend, the Olympic Games were founded by Heracles, the son of the Greek god Zeus.

To represent the country is an honor. But to represent the country against nations is a privilege. However, the Philippines’ team of 11 seemed to be stripped of this privilege.

Instead of being fully funded by the government, Smart Communications had to sponsor the athlete’s expenses. The 2012 Philippine delegation is the smallest since our country participated in 1924. Included in the batch was 21-year-old Hidilyn Diaz, a weightlifter.

At the age of 17, she participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympics with hopes of winning in this year’s Olympics. Her three attempts to lift 118 kilos in the clean and jerk category threw her out of the games. She cried and offered her apologies to the Filipinos.

Being a young athlete, she wasn’t the only one who took part in the Olympic Games. Seven young athletes brought the Olympic flame to life.

The 2012 opening ceremony struck me when London’s motto of “inspire a generation” graced the passing of the Olympic flame from Olympians and coaches to aspiring young athletes with their torches. I saw how the athletes were given the task of bringing pride and glory to their country as the flame was passed on to their torches. They ran around the stadium telling the world of their acceptance to the task given. It inspired me. An ordinary flame ignited the symbolic spirit of the games through the next generation.

The London Standard reported that parents brought children as young as eight months to the stadium to watch the games. Even elementary kids flocked to the event venues to cheer for their country.

But Diaz along with the Philippine team had no cheerers on the bleachers. They did not have people rooting for them as they gave their best to the events their skill and prowess. Free TV coverage of the games might not even be the primetime in every household. The Philippine team again went unnoticed by the Filipinos.

But London’s feat to inspire a generation sparked in young hearts the flame of believing in their athletes, their nation, and themselves. Philippine athletes are barely heard of. No adequate media exposure, no support. How do we believe in them, then?

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