THAT’S it, one more check mark to such a deep bucket list. Never in this lifetime did I imagine that we would ever win an Olympic gold medal. My first recollection of this national longing had come in during the summer of 1964 as a kid, when practically all of the old folks in our tiny corner of Ponciano Street suddenly became abuzz when the Philippines won its highest Olympic summer games feat ever, a silver medal in boxing. For many months after that, it had made the boxer Anthony Villanueva the toast of Philippine sports but much more, like the rest, I had instantly become an Olympic fan.
After more than a twenty-year drought, the country won its second silver in 1996, also in boxing. The sports officials of the time had then begun crediting this rare accomplishment to their sure-fire formula of improved sports training, sound logistics plus forays abroad for exposure which are still being done at present. However, inspite all this, add another 20-year drought to the calendar.
Exactly five summer Olympics later in 2016, our third silver medal had come, this time courtesy of Hidilyn Diaz in Weightlifting. At this, the country’s Olympic hopes for the elusive gold has become precisely that, elusive, because worldwide, the rest of the world had also bettered their methods and preparation. In many ways, the level of excellence of athletes has improved, as we have, and more. For what it’s worth, nothing appeared to have really changed, except our status as a consistent winner of “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” award. And this has slowly begun to dive deeper into consciousness.
No matter, throw all bad history away, that’s all broken now. Hidilyn Diaz had finally won a gold! For one thing, we have come a long way since 1964’s silver. If we were even to start counting since the very first summer Olympics, that’s a total of 97 years waiting, so it should indeed be a reason to really celebrate.
However, how should we all celebrate? Perhaps like other first-timers like Tajikistan, Puerto Rico, Kosovo, Jordan, Ivory Coast and Fiji, who during the Rio games celebrated with wild abandon. Already, in our notoriously-famous (or infamous) spirit of adding political color to anything we fancy, along with dashes of cultural bragging rights and provincialism, we are slowly robbing away at the sweat and tears of the athlete and the true essence of sports.
We own it, we feel. It’s an entitlement long due, we feel. At the very least, I just really wish that we celebrated in the way people did in the old days of 1964. It was a thousand times simpler back then. But then I guess, wild abandon is not in fashion anymore.
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