AUGUST 24, 2008
(STAR) By Gerry Carpio  — Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco said all the members of the 15-man Philippine contingent made a performance “we all can be proud of” despite their failure to win a single medal in the XXIX Olympic Games here.

“They did all the best they could and I think they deserve all the gratitude of the Filipino people even though they did not win any medal,” Cojuangco said.

The Philippine contingent is going home without a medal after similar unsuccessful tries in the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics.

“Our wushu team at least won a gold and we sang our national anthem and waved our flag here in Beijing even if wushu is not part of the Olympics,” he said.

First Gentleman Mike Arroyo led the singing of the national anthem during the awarding ceremonies Friday for Willy Wang, winner of the gold medal in the taolu (form) event of the Beijing wushu tournament among 43 countries.

Cojuango said there are lessons the Philippines could learn from its participation, particularly the need to revitalize training programs to keep Filipino players close enough to Olympic and world level in the future.

Many countries, he said, have made huge improvements in almost all sports, noting in particular the high-profile swimming events where 90 world, Olympic and continental records were shattered in seven days while the old one was surpassed by at least the top five in each event.

US-based swimmers did break the Philippine and Southeast Asian Games but their new marks were not fast enough to qualify them for the semifinals.

New records were set by Usain “Lightning” Bolt from Jamaica in the 100m and 200m sprints and new highs were reached in the middle distances (800m and 1,500m) and the 4X100m relay.

The record of 8.95 m by Mike Powell in 1991 remains in the books but Henry Dagmil still remained more than a meter short of the standard with her 7.58m jump, barely good for the last five among 40 participants. Marestella Torres’ 6.63 m in the same event is still way below the world record of 7.52 which remained untouched since 1972.

Mark Javier’s new Philippine mark of 654 in the 72 arrows is 30 short of the 1972 record of 684 and he was ousted right in the first round of the archery competitions.

Hidilyn Diaz rewrote the Philippine mark with a lift of 190 in the Olympics, but the norm she has to reach or exceed in the next Olympics is 250kg.

Philippine Sports Commission chairman William “Butch” Ramirez has also proposed a talent identitiy program designed to identify athletes as early as two years old, develop 12-to-16 year programs for future Olympians and a training institute to develop and train coaches for elite and grassroots training.

FG has special bonus for wushu bets – not P15M By Gerry Carpio Sunday, August 24, 2008

BEIJING – First Gentleman Mike Arroyo yesterday praised the wushu athletes for their heroic effort in winning four medals for country, saying some “special awards” are forthcoming for all four athletes who won one gold, two bronze medals and either a gold or silver in the packed Beijing 2007 wushu competitions at the Olympic Sports Center.

‘I am very proud of what they did,” said the First Gentleman, who watched all the Filipinos’ bouts with wushu honorary lifetime president Francis Chan and wushu president Julian Camacho, Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose ‘Peping” Cojuangco, Philippine Sports Commission chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, POC secretary general Steve Hontiveros and other members of the Filipino community.

“They stayed here, they trained here for eight months and now it’s paying off.”

The five medalists are Willy Wang who won the gold in the taolu event and Marianne Mariano and Benjie Rivera who took the bronze in the sanshou events and Mary Jane Estimar who is competing for the gold against a Chinese opponent today.

“So I say thanks to wushu officials who did their best in keeping them here in China and I thank also the boys and girls who did very well,” he added. “We are very proud of all of them and all our efforts have paid off.”

“At least it was so nice to sing our national anthem in the Olympics and this is the very first time it happened so we are very proud of them,” he said.

When asked if Wang would be entitled to the P15 million bonus from Malacañang and private sponsors, the First Gentleman would not confirm.

“I’m sure we can find something for them. From Malacañang I don’t know but I’m sure they’ll get some cash rewards,” he said.

The P15 million bonus cropped up early in the Olympics when Camacho said Pres. Arroyo had told him the wushu athletes would also be entitled to the P15 million bonus if they won the gold.

Although Camacho told The STAR the President had indeed told her of the bonus, he said he and the players wouldn’t expect that to happen.

“I told our athletes and they are one with us that the main reason we are here is to give honor and pride to our country and financial rewards are beside the question,” he said.

The Beijing 2008 wushu has gathered 128 athletes from 43 countries whose entries qualified from last year’s world wushu championships.

The wushu tournament is being run concurrently with the Olympics in a bid to get the game considered for eventual Olympic inclusion.

Wushu debuted as a demonstration sport in the 1936 Berlin Games. 

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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