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Team Running USA & Philippine Sports

19 08 2008

This is one of the privately-managed distance running projects in the USA today. This sports project on the training of the elite runners of USA complements the vision and objectives of the Brooks-Hansons Distance Project and the Project Oregon of NIKE which I featured in this blog for the past weeks.

Team Running USA has Deana Kastor and Ryan Hall as their top athletes in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, Deana Kastor was DNFd in the last Sunday’s 2008 Women’s Olympic Marathon. Hopes for a good accomplishment of this sports project in the Olympic Men’s Marathon lies now on the legs and shoulders of Ryan Hall.

These three sports projects—Team Running USA (Mammoth Lakes, California), Brooks-Hansons Distance Project (Rochester Hills, Michigan), and the NIKE’s Project Oregon (Eugene, Oregon) where one had been created as early in 1999 and the latest one was created six years ago. The vision of these projects is to bring back the USA elite athletes into long distance running supremacy in the sports world. These projects were also geared on discovering why the Africans are the best in running long distance events and eventually aiming to beat them.

Each of these running projects is well-represented among the three USA athletes competing in the 2008 Olympic Men’s Marathon this Sunday—Ryan Hall (PR-2:06:17 hrs/25 years old) of Team Running USA; Brian Sell (PR-2:10:47 hrs/29 years old) of Brooks-Hansons Distance Project; and Dathan Ritzenhein (PR-2:11:07 hrs/25 years old) of NIKE’s Project Oregon.

Why am I posting this information? It is because we have in the Philippines this kind of sports project in the late 70s and early 80s under the Project Gintong Alay but this was fully supported by the President of the country and directly managed by his nephew and not from private sponsorships. This project brought honor and pride to our country during Asian and ASEAN Games and I consider this as the “golden era of Philippine Sports”. Later, such sports project had been “buried” as other countries had started to have such similar project in their sports programs. Is it because it was one of the projects under the Marcos administration or are our sports officials and authorities have better sports project to replace it and come up with a better performance of our athletes in international sports competitions or they (our leaders) are not involved in any sports at all and they were given with the wrong recommendations from people who had vested interests in sports? 

As I said, after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, we will read in our daily newspapers “finger-pointing” as who failed in our bid for our first Olympic Gold Medal and as who will take full responsibility for such dismal performance. Are the athletes, the sports officials, national sports associations, the POC, the PSC, the government, the local governments, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, AFP/PNP, or the private sector be blamed again?

I guess, our media will blame that we are a “poor” country and that providing food to the dining table and solving our poverty problem is a much better priority to address than our problem in sports! Anyway, Manny Pacquiao, “Django” Bustamante, “Bata” Reyes, and “Paeng” Nepomuceno are there already successfully bringing the country into the map of sports worldwide.

Anyway, these are my predictions as the courses of action of our “intelligent & smart” citizens as “knee-jerk” suggestions to improve our sports programs as a result of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games:

1) One or two of our senators/congressmen will ask for an official inquiry why our Olympic Team had a dismal performance in the Olympic Games. (This act will boost his/her exposure in the media and for his/her bid for a higher elected position in the 2010 presidential elections).

2) One of the advisers of the President will suggest to her to create a Department of Sports & Athletes whose head is a Cabinet position and the President has full direct supervision to the said department.

3) The President will promise infusion of her funds to the PSC, maybe, One Billion Pesos, to create more sports facilities in the local governments and support our elite athletes. The President has done that in the AFP’s fight against insurgency in order to meet the deadline of solving the problem by 2010.

4) The Philippine Sports Commission will immediately conduct a well-publicized “Sports Forum/Seminar-Convention” inviting all the sports national associations, members, and the public to discuss and come up with a national sports strategy. The PSC will invite top athletes, coaches, private sponsors, and media from us and from other countries to share their experiences. The result/s of this convention will be briefed and given to the President. But after that, nothing will happen as we “backslide” to where we were again. This “forum/convention” thing had been done before in every administration of a new President since former President Marcos.

5) Those “armchair sports officionados” will ask for “some heads to roll” from the President as “fall guys” in our dismal performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They might also ask for the resignation of the Chairmen of the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission and political allies/supporters will ask the President to recommend this and that person/s who will start our sports program from zero and present to us nice “plans and promises” again.

6) I hope one of our “investigative journalists” will deeply research and investigate on the present condition of our sports program, the functions of each sports commissioner, the accountability of PSC’s finances, and publish his/her report in the daily newspapers, TV, sports magazines, and radio outlets.

7) One of the advisers to the President will come again with a “project/program” geared towards attaining our first Olympic Gold Medal as what had happened after the 2000 Olympic Games where a Cabinet Secretary suggested to the President for the DND/AFP to train the soldiers among the best in shooting, boxing, taekwando, and marathon. He promised to the President that the first Olympic Gold Medal will be coming from the Armed Forces of the Philippines but there was no funding allocation to speak of! After two years, only the marathon program existed and lasted for another six years!

8) All the politicians who will be planning to run for President in 2010 will be visible or even personally sponsoring sports events in Metro Manila just to give the “impression” that they are also fit and athletic (?) or fully support our sports program and national athletes…which is very far from the truth!

“Quo Vadis, Philippine Sports?”

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5 responses

19 08 2008
DATC

Baldrunner, you must have ESP. In BF’s speech before the Takbo Bayani run last Sunday, he spoke about conducting similar races in other parts of the country such as Leyte and Baguio. He said he would send the winners to participate in the Tokyo Marathon, an event that Japanese officials regularly invite him to.

All the politicians who will be planning to run for President in 2010 will be visible or even personally sponsoring sports events in Metro Manila just to give the “impression” that they are also fit and athletic (?) or fully support our sports program and national athletes…which is very far from the truth!

19 08 2008
highaltitude

BR,

this is excellent observation. however, i was bothered to read your predictions of what will be happen later. i was not in to sport things before, as i mentioned earlier that it is in the philippines, i am interested in sport, especially in running. but i could still remember few years ago when indonesia has no medal for man and woman single for badminton and your predictions were exactly happened.

I have a strong conviction that few if not many of your predictions will come true. but i hope before those predictions happens, those people will read this particular post and reflect on it.

perhaps, some media should take a look on this post as well…

ps. i sent you an email to your hotmail =) if you have time please check it out.

19 08 2008
sfrunner

BR, thank you for sharing this with us. There was a void here in the U.S. for several years when the U.S. didn’t have these programs (Brooks, Project Oregon and Team Running USA). Too much individualism and not enough team. Then the Nike Farm Team (Stanford) was established. Eventually, Vin Lahaina went to Oregon to be the coach of Oregon and assists Project Oregon.

The Kenyans and Ethiopians are still a force to reckon with. However, the world (not just the U.S.) is closing in. Tomescu-Dita (Romania) won the Women’s Marathon but there were two Chinese that finished third and fourth. The Men’s Marathon could change now that Cheriyout (Kenya) and the Athens’ Olympic Champion are out with injuries.

21 08 2008
workaholicrunner

Baldrunner,

I was just curious how the current crop of Philippine runners stack up against world standards. Could anyone of them have reached either the Olympic A or B standards? It is hard to find resources on the internet on how Philippine track and field athletes are doing.

A sprinter friend of mine tod me years ago that he was fairly sure that no Philippine runner has actually broken a four minute mile. I find that hard to believe since Roger Bannister broke it over half a century ago. Could this be true?

21 08 2008
kingofpots

workaholicrunner, it is sad to admit the reality that our runners don’t qualify even the olympic B standards due to lack of consistency of our sports program and maybe due also to the lack of focus & commitment by the gov’t and private sectors. i am also lost as to where i could get information about the records of our past athletes in athletics/track & field and that’s the other thing that we lack–proper documentation. maybe your friend was right about our runner not being able to break the sub-4 a mile, however, i have to make a research. thanks

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