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Tiebreaker Times

2020 Tokyo Olympics

Sangiao hopes support for athletes extends to post-Tokyo

Team Lakay and national kickboxing team coach Mark Sangiao is one with the nation in expressing his glee for the superb showing Team Philippines had in the recently concluded 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

The Filipino athletes truly gave it their all and were rewarded with the country’s biggest medal haul yet — one gold, two silvers, and a bronze medal — as the nation registered a strong 50th place in the medal table.

“I wanted to start this week with the utmost gratitude and a rightful salute to our Filipino athletes, to the coaches, and all of the people who were responsible in our country’s triumphant participation in the 2020 Olympics.”

Truly, all 19 Filipino athletes helped deliver glory to the country led by weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz who topped the women’s minus-55 kg category and gave the Philippines its long-awaited gold medal in the Olympiad.

Aside from her, the boxers also made their mark in the ring, with featherweight Nesthy Petecio and flyweight Carlo Paalam taking home silver medals in their weight classes, while middleweight Eumir Marcial settled for the bronze medal in his division.

Sangiao, himself a former national athlete and a national team coach, could relate to the tough journey these athletes have gone through to get to their sport’s pinnacles.

“As an athlete and now a coach, I understand how difficult the road every athlete takes, all those sacrifices, all those challenges, both physical and emotional, all those tireless hours spent when all your body, your heart, and your mind are on the verge of quitting, aside from that is the lack of financial help. But you take it all in, rise up, and continue training. It’s really difficult,” he said.

“Sometimes, all we see are the shiny medals and trophies which are a product of all of these agonizing processes. Our support is always big and our applause is always heard in their moments of glory. Sometimes, we only get to know them and praise them in moments where they bring our country glory, in moments where we proudly sa that we’re ‘proud to be Pinoy.'”

Sangiao’s words couldn’t be any truer.

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After the accomplishments of these athletes, pledges — whether monetary or in-kind — showered on these medalists, rightful rewards for the pride they brought to the country.

It’s unfortunate, however, that these kinds of support weren’t present when they were preparing for war. Some even trained in dingy gyms and old apparatuses, all in hopes of representing the Philippines in the international stage.

And so Sangiao delivered a call to action, noting that people shouldn’t limit their support only to moments of success. Instead, the support should be there from the start.

To him, what matters more is how we vouch and back these athletes from their lowest points, from their moments of despair, to their highest of highs. All in the hopes that someday, they could also scale the mountain and get to the top and likewise, bring honor to the country.

“But Kabayan, with all my heart, I also wish that in moments where our athletes fail, more than any time, we need to be there to console them, that we’re there for their eventual comeback and return. These are the moments that they need our understanding and appreciation for all of their sacrifices,” he said.

“There’s a sense to that and it leaves a big impact for our athletes when we simply say, ‘Thank you Kabayan. We’re still here to support you. Keep on fighting,’ the same way that it hurts them when we belittle their efforts while we only watch them and we say, ‘What’s with this loss? How can he be an athlete if he’s this weak? Who is this? He’s embarrassing!‘” he lamented.

“I just hope that for all of our brave athletes’ blood, sweat, and tears, we learn how to understand and support them whenever they win or lose. I wish that in all of their moments, not just during when they are on top, we wholeheartedly shout, ‘Hail the Filipino athletes!'”

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