Simply amazing!
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - August 10, 2016 - 12:00am

It was a sad start for our athletes competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, with loses in table tennis, swimming, and boxing. The quest for the country's very first Olympic gold medal remains elusive as ever. But the next day, a woman from Zamboanga City would uplift, pun intended, the spirit of the whole nation.

Hidilyn Diaz won the silver medal in her weightlifting class. Simply amazing! Her persistence and never-give-up attitude has paid off in more ways than one. She won the medal on her mother's birthday, dedicating the win to her.

A government incentive of five million pesos, along with a house and lot promised by a realtor to Olympic medalists await her return.

Diaz' silver medal is the third in the country's Olympic history, with medalists winning in 1964 and 1996. We also have seven bronze medals in our national tally. It would certainly be historic for an athlete to finally bring home the gold. An incentive of ten million pesos awaits that person. Bronze medalists will also have two million pesos to look forward to.

The cash incentives are great, but I'm sure the athletes that compete in the Olympics aspire for more than that. Aside from national pride and competing with world-class athletes, the goal is to better oneself as well - stronger, higher, faster, farther, as the song goes.

Vietnam beat us to it by winning their very first gold medal in the 10-meter air pistol shooting event, made even sweeter by defeating China. Hoang Xuan Vinh, an active colonel in the Vietnamese Army, made an almost perfect shot to seal the win. He gets a hundred thousand dollars from his government. This is actually one sport Filipinos can excel in, with the country seemingly enamored with guns. Obviously, government support is not enough.

The private sector's assistance would greatly improve the country's sports programs. I know the country is obsessed with basketball but let's face it, it is a tall man's game. Our best chance at a gold medal has always been in boxing, which I believe already has good support from both government and the private sector.

We still have athletes competing in Rio. It is hoped that the victory of Hidilyn Diaz inspires them to bring home another medal for the country.

With all the negative news we see on a daily basis - dead bodies everywhere, officials supposedly in the drug trade -   Diaz' victory is a welcome change indeed. We need more of that, if only to calm our nerves and sooth our senses from what is now becoming a daily, bloody routine.

korina_abs@yahoo.com.

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