PHILIPPINE Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez yesterday said the country’s athletes have what it takes to “deliver a surprise” in the Southeast Asian Games, raising hopes the miracle of 2005 can be replicated in the games set on Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.
Ramirez based his optimism on the foreign exposure being given the athletes, saying “because of that exposure, malakas ang loob ko. With all our investment, I am confident that our athletes will deliver in this SEA Games.”
Speaking in yesterday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association forum backed by San Miguel Corp., Braska Restaurant, Amelie Hotel and Pagcor, Ramirez said the results of the foreign exposure being given to athletes have been “very inspiring.”
“We have found new heroes,” added Ramirez, referring to gymnast Caloy Yulo, female boxer Nesthy Petecio and pole vaulter EJ Obiena.
From a regular annual budget of P300 million, the PSC, on orders of Malacanang, has spent thrice as much so far this year to make sure the athletes are well-trained and highly-motivated.
“We went beyond that (old budget). As of September this year, the PSC has spent P1 billion for our athletes,” said Ramirez, adding the bulk has been spent on foreign exposure and equipment.
The PSC also increased the daily and meal allowances of the athletes (651 male and 462 female) and coaches (346), and worked on upgrading their living quarters and training facilities.
The last time the country hosted the games in 2005, Pinoy athletes delivered more than a hundred gold medals and secured the overall championship for the first time. The country also hosted the games in 1981 and 1991.
Ramirez also assured everyone that the facilities being repaired and administered by the PSC that will be used as venues for the games will be finished on time.
“These venues will be ready by Nov. 15 to 20; this is what the contractors have assured me,” Ramirez said in the wake of reports (not in Malaya-Business Insight) saying a Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee official that they are looking for alternative venues in the event the PSC facilities would not be ready in time.
Among the venues mentioned by the PHISGOC official are the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, Rizal Memorial Football Stadium as well as Philsports Arena in Pasig City, which are being eyed as venues for gymnastics, men’s football and indoor volleyball, respectively.
“May I remind everybody that the renovation of these facilities was part of the master plan that we have in providing facilities for our athletes,” Ramirez stressed. “We offered these venues because PHISGCOC were looking for venues for their events.”
He said he had a scheduled meeting yesterday afternoon with the contractors of the facilities undergoing renovation round-the-clock so that they would meet the Nov. 15 deadline set by the government sports agency.
“All I know is we should work as one as well as win as one,” he said.
Ramirez, also the chief of mission of Team Philippines, said he is confident the National Sports Associations will make their respective contributions in the country’s bid for the overall championship.
“We have our regular meetings with these NSAs and we know what they intend to deliver in December,” he said, adding there would be a day of reckoning after the Games.