Fil-Am Track Team
SPORTS EYE - Raffy Uytiepo (The Freeman) - April 2, 2019 - 12:00am

Don’t look now but the 2019 SEA Games which we are hosting is just around the corner and are our athletes ready?.  Well, things look good in athletics with a team dominated by Fil-Ams.  After our debacle in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, I got the ire of a former sports official when I criticized our practice of hiring Fil-Ams.  I mentioned that our efforts of holding numerous competitions like the Palarong Pambansa, Batang Pinoy and Phil National Games are useless because we always turn to our Fil-Am athletes.  Take a look at our current track team, Eric Cray, Kristina Knott, Natalie Uy, Kayla and Kyla Richardson and Trenten Berram who was recently dropped from the team after failing to report or even answer emails from PATAFA.  Berram won two gold medals in Malaysia in 2017.  We are indeed assured of potential gold medals with the Fil-Ams but what about our homegrown talents? Why train them when all we have to do is field the Fil-Ams, who disappear after the Games. Gintong Alay that produced the likes of Lydia De Vega, Renato del Prado and Elma Muros proved that we could win with our local talents if given the right support. That sports official wanted my head, calling me a “racist” but I was vindicated when no less than Gintong Alay project director Micheal Keon and former PSC executive director Lucring Calo came to my rescue. The last time we won the SEA Games was in 2005 when we were hosts.  Since then, we plummeted in the last three stagings of the Games.  But did you know we have not cracked the 30-gold medal barrier? Well, I hope we improve this year since we will have home court advantage.

Did you know?

Sidney Poitier then a relative unknown was hired to play Inman Jackson in the second full-length movie about the Harlem Globetrotters titled “Go,Man,Go”.  The Globetrotters played themselves in the film that opened in 11,000 theaters across the country in 1954. Earlier in 1950, the NBA’s racial barriers were broken down when the Boston Celtics signed a black player Chuck Cooper of Duquesne. Globetrotter Sweetwater Clifton signed with the New York Knicks soon after.  That was the beginning of the decline of the Harlem Globetrotters as the NBA grabbed all the Negro college talent.  Bill Russel turned down $45,000 from the Trotters to accept a $20,000 deal with the Boston Celtics. Wilt Chamberlain, who played with the Trotters for over a year, accepted a lower pay from the Philadelphia Warriors. 

Nikita Khrushchev

The Soviet premier personally welcomed the Harlem Globetrotters when they played in Moscow in 1959. Wilt Chamberlain was no doubt the favorite of the crowd and was asked by the Russian media if American Negroes are still enslaved? Wilt replied “Did you hear of a slave owning 30 suits, 20 pairs of shoes, a Cadillac and a ranch house?”  The Russian tour was an extraordinary success with an estimated 135,000 people watching the nine games the Trotters played with different Russian ballclubs.

ABEBE BIKILA won the 1964 Tokyo Olympics marathon despite undergoing an appendectomy 40 days beforehand.  Bikila also won the marathon in the 1960 Rome Olympics and he did it running bare feet but the funny thing was the Japanese officials were completely unprepared  and had no idea what the Ethiopian National anthem sounded like.  So as Bikila received his medal, the band played the Japanese National Anthem instead which confused the spectators.

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