MANILA, April 14, 2004
By Abac Cordero - "Go GMA!"

In a bid to boost the country’s search for the elusive Olympic gold, the Philippine Sports Commission yesterday unveiled the "Go GMA (Gold Medal in Athens)" program that will benefit all Filipino athletes who will qualify to the Athens Olympics in August.

Chairman Eric Buhain said the program has the full blessings of President Arroyo who is expected to stand and rally behind the RP campaign in Athens regardless of what happens in the coming May elections.

According to Buhain, President Arroyo has instructed the government sports agency to guarantee full support to the Filipino athletes as they try to end the country’s long search for the ultimate victory in sports.

"Government is committed not only to support the athletes who have already qualified to the Athens Olympics but also those who are competing in the different Olympic qualifying tournaments until June," said the PSC chief who bared the program to mediamen a day after celebrating his 34th birthday.

"We still have plenty of time to prepare and the more athletes we could help qualify to the games, the better chance we’ll have to earn for the country its first-ever Olympic gold," the former swimming sensation added.

Under the "Go GMA" program, the PSC will provide the Filipino athletes all their training requirements, including foreign exposures, as they prepare for the Athens Olympics.

So far, a dozen Filipino athletes have qualified to this year’s Olympics. They are Violito Payla, Romeo Brin and Chris Camat in boxing, Miguel Molina, Miguel Mendoza and Carlo Piccio in swimming; Tshomlee Go, Donald Geisler and Ma. Antoinette Rivero in taekwondo; Eduardo Buenavista and Lerma Balauitan in athletics; and Jasmin Figueroa in archery.

Buhain said he expects at least 20 RP bets in Athens. There are Olympic qualifying tournaments lined up in boxing, judo, triathlon, rowing, fencing, shooting and badminton.

"I can see the determination in the eyes of our athletes and their desire to give their best shot in the Olympics. With these projects, I believe our athletes will be more inspired and determined to go for the gold in Athens," Buhain added.

The country’s search for the elusive Olympic gold got a big shot in the arm yesterday with the announcement of the "Go for Gold Medal in Athens" (Go GMA).

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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