AUGUST 28, 2008
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - The cash register is ringing for the Philippine wushu team that brought home a handful of medals from Beijing.

Francis Chan, honorary lifetime president of the Philippine Wushu Federation, said yesterday that First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, San Miguel Corp., Pagcor and the Philippine Sports Commission are passing the hat.

The First Gentleman is reported shelling out P1 million like Ramon Ang of SMC and Pagcor while the PSC, under chairman Butch Ramirez, has thrown in P500,000 to the wushu team.

Even President Arroyo is said to be planning a very special gift for the team made up of gold medalist Willy Wang, silver medalist Mary Jane Estimar and bronze medalists Benjie Rivera and Mariane Mariano.

They won the medals in the wushu competitions that served as a special event to the Beijing Olympics where 15 other Pinoy athletes in eight regular sports failed to win any medal.

The cash incentive, however, will be given to the team as a whole.

“It’s okay if there’s none, but it’s nice if there’s some. Maybe we can use it for the team, for us to buy our vitamins,” said the 24-year-old Wang, also a gold medalist in last year’s World Championships.

Wang said he’s ready to retire, and probably continue his studies (he skipped school after high school to concentrate on training), or put up a small business related to computers.

“If they give me something for my self, then I will keep it in a bank or use it for business,” said Wang, whose victory in Beijing gave the Philippine team a reason to smile as they bid goodbye to the 29th Olympiad.

In yesterday’s welcome party for the wushu winners, Wang agreed to stay on until the Southeast Asian Games in Laos next year.

Chan said while the medals in Beijing did not reflect on the official Olympic standings, he felt that his athletes deserved something in return for bringing honor to the country.

“Whether wushu was an Olympic event or not what’s important is that we brought honor to the country. That’s eight months of training and eight months of sacrifice for our wushu athletes.

“We did everything the athletes from the other sports did, maybe even harder. Yes. It’s not an official Olympic event. But it’s the same heart that we showed out there. The honor is the same,” said Chan.

“And we will never stop. We at wushu, whenever we win in the SEA Games or Asian Games we try to start from scratch. We will participate in every tournament possible. We will continue to produce fine athletes until wushu is included in the Olympics,” the wushu official vowed.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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