RIO DE JANEIRO – Kirstie Elaine Alora, the last Filipino athlete to compete in the Rio Olympics, carried the country’s colors in Sunday’s closing ceremonies at the iconic Maracana Stadium.
The Rio Olympics came to a close, and the Tokyo Olympics was formally introduced.
Alora said if she stays fit, she will give the Olympics another shot in 2020, hoping to do better than her already gallant stand last Saturday.
“If our association still wants me to, I will try to qualify,” said Alora.
The closing ceremony lasted three hours, and featured Brazilian music, dances by half-naked women in Carnival costumes and the Japanese Prime Minister in a Super Mario costume.
Everybody looked forward to the Tokyo Olympics after Rio formally bade goodbye.
International Olympic Commtitee president Thomas Bach said the Rio Olympics, like all the rest, will be remembered with joy.
People will remember the historic run of Usain Bolt and the ripples created by Michael Phelps.
“History will talk about a Rio before and a much better Rio after these Games,” said the IOC president.
For the Philippines, which won a silver medal courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, it’s time to move on to the next battles ahead – the SEA Games, Asian Games and then Tokyo.
Chef-de-mission Jose Romasanta gave an assessment of the Philippine participation here.
He called it “a good run” in that the country ended a 20-year medal drought in the Olympics. Diaz came here eyeing the bronze in the women’s 53 kg class, and won the silver.
Medals can be won in the Olympics, according to Romasanta, if the Philippines does what needs to be done. He said it has to do a better job discovering talents that can deliver the goods.
“It’s about time we come up with a really organized approach, a documented program, professional in manner, management style,” he said.
“We need a third eye. We need to commission an independent [group] with the objective of assessing what really has to be done,” said the first vice president of the Philippine Olympic Committee.
Romasanta is speaking from experience because as head of the now-defunct Project: Gintong Alay, he managed to steer the country to great heights in sports.
“We need an agency or a group to champion this. I’m batting for a management group to help everybody through it and to help organize our plans,” he said before the closing ceremony.
Romasanta said the Philippines can’t keep going back to the drawing board after each international competition, and can’t rely on sports summits that doesn’t really mean a thing.
“Hindi puwede dakdakan lang (It can’t be all talk). It has to come in an organized manner. We can all have our two cents worth. But we need to put things in fine form and professionally done,” he said.
To be successful in the Olympics, the Philippines must first identify the sports where Filipinos can really excel, and then find the talent from as far as the eyes can see.
“Why not go to the provinces to look for kids with physical attributes for a certain sport. Somebody has to have that eye for this and recruit them,” he said.
“What I’m saying is there should be an organized and identified steady stream of athletes for particular sports if we want more qualifiers in the Olympics,” he added.
Then the Philippines can really look forward.