The Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) plans to request another Chinese coach, with the return of Gao Kaiwen filled with uncertainty.
SWP President Monico Puentevella said that he will meet with PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez to discuss the particular matter once he returns to Manila, since he is still in Las Vegas for the upcoming bout of Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
“Pagbalik ko sa Maynila, I will be talking already with Chairman Ramirez, hihingi kami ulit ng Chinese coach,” the accomplished sportsman told the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum webcast Tuesday.
Gao is set to return home to China next month to spend quality time with his family after being away from them for nearly three years, as he trained Hidilyn Diaz to become the Philippines’ first-ever Olympic gold medalist.
Diaz, though, had said before that they plan to make him their consultant, with strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo to take his place.
“Si Coach Gao will become a consultant for Hidilyn and coach is Naranjo,” Puentevella told the session powered by SMART and presented by San Miguel Corp., MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and PAGCOR.
Still, he said that another coach would be needed especially for the younger lifters, with the aim of molding more winners out of them.
“Pero yung mga batang bago, kailangan din madaan sa karayom. So I will be requesting Chairman Ramirez — I think wala akong problema diyan — for a Chinese coach na iba na marunong ng Ingles,” he said.
There is one problem, however, according to the politician. Hiring a Chinese mentor might be easier said than done.
Puentevella recalled the alleged disappointment of the Chinese team towards Gao after helping the Zamboanga native succeed in the Tokyo Games at the expense of former world champion Liao Quiyun, who settled for silver.
Gao, 64, turned Chen Xiexia and Zhou Lulu into champions in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, respectively. He also served as the head coach of the Chinese Bayi team, as well as the Chinese army’s women’s team.
“May problema tayo konti because I do not know the attitude now ng Chinese government. Kasi sa walo, na-disgrasya ‘yung isa nila sa Chinese coach,” he said as Liao was the only non-gold winner in the Chinese weightlifting team.
“Kaya hindi ko alam kung si Coach Gao makabalik pa ‘yan dito dahil sikat na ‘yan palagay ko. Sikat na sikat na ‘yan sa Beijing, [kung] saan siya nakatira, dahil alam nila na itong Chinese coach ang tumalo sa kanila.
“So whether they will cooperate or help us, I don’t know if the Chinese government will allow. Pero kung hindi, hihingi kami ng Chinese coach sa iba. I hope the Chinese government will still give us a coach,” he added.
In the event that their request gets denied, Puentevella said that the federation is also open to hiring other foreign coaches.
“Kung wala hanap na lang ako sa iba kasi maraming nag-aapply sa atin sa SWP. Maraming nag-aapply na foreign coaches — mga Hungarian, mula Uzbekistan,” said the former PSC commissioner.
And of course, Filipino coaches are also among the possible options. “Kung ayaw talaga ng China tumulong ulit dahil na-disgrasya sila, okay naman ako sa ating Filipino coaches.”