TOKYO — Losing happens even to the best of ‘em.
This was the message of Philippine Sports Commission chairman William “Butch” Ramirez to Filipino athletes, who suffered heartbreaking setbacks during the first day of competitions of the Summer Olympic Games here.
Taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa and Fil-American swimmer Remedy Rule were eliminated right on the first day of competition. Meanwhile, world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo — one of the country’s brightest hopes for a gold medal in these games — failed to advance to the finals of his favorite the men’s floor exercise and five other events. He made only the vault championship round.
“Si Caloy, first-time sa Olympics. I got to talk to him before his vault competition. Sabi ko sa kanya na ‘wag siya masyadong mag-worry kasi it really happens,” said Ramirez, citing Japanese legend and two-time Olympic champion “King Kohei” Uchimura, who fell off the horizontal bar and failed to advance during the men’s gymnastics qualifying round on Saturday.
“Kahit ‘yung Japanese two-time world champion, natalo, nahulog sa bar.”
The PSC chief said pressure from the Filipino public and high expectations that stemmed from the Philippines’ 97-year-old gold medal drought in the Olympics proved simply too much for the Filipino Olympians to handle.
“Medyo frustrating because we are expecting the elusive gold since 1924,” said Ramirez.
The journey to Olympic glory doesn’t happen overnight, the PSC chief says.
“Naawa ako sa bata (Yulo) dahil he was pressured. Nakita ko na umupo siya sa ibaba.
“I would imagine as an athlete ‘yung frustration nu’ng bata, but Caloy should not worry because he has Paris Olympics to look forward to,” said Ramirez, who also made an example of Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, who took three Olympics (Beijing, London, Rio) before clinching a medal.
“You’re very lucky kung unang pasok mo panalo ka. Si Hidilyn, she’s a model, pumasok siya 2008, nanalo siya sa Rio Olympics,” the sportsman continued. “’Yun ang sinabi ko sa kanya (Yulo), ‘wag siya mag-worry, naiintindihan namin ‘yan because it happens even to the best athletes.”
Ramirez said the PSC has learned so much from the experience of Diaz, from her wildcard entry in China to her silver in Brazil.
“Nagkaroon ang board ng solution ang PSC at itinulad namin ‘to kay Hidilyn Diaz. An athlete must have his own coaches, a nutritionist, a psychologist, a physiologist. Hindi puwede na ipapadala lang natin ‘to at mangangarap lang tayo ng gold.”