Tony Benson: The Man Behind Project “Gintong Alay”

31 01 2009

If there is a man to be fully credited on the success of Philippine Sports, most especially in Athletics, it is Tony Benson of Australia. He was the National Coach of the Project “Gintong Alay”. The following is the excerpts taken from his website, Readers are encouraged to visit his site and see its “Honour Roll”  page where he presented Ani De Leon, our woman qualifier and participant  in the 2008 Ford Kona IRONMAN and our past athletes in Athletiics as his athletes who were trained under him .

A 1972 Olympian and once the fifth ranked 5000m runner in the world, Tony was undefeated on tours of the USA and Europe between 1970 and 1972, is the last Australian distance runner to win at the prestigious Cologne, Stockholm and Oslo meets. In addition Tony is a sub “4” minute miler, a former Australian 2000m record holder and the 1969 Pacific Conference 1500m Gold Medalist. He has best times of 3:59.8 (mile), 7:50 (3000m) and 13:36 (5000m) as well as a road 10k time of 27:37 on a Ballarat course that, while uncertified, had seen only two other athletes, Wayne Bourke and Kevin Brady – both sub 14:05/5000m runners, break 30 minutes on the course in 40 years.

Tony began coaching in 1967 while teaching at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat. He moved to club coaching with Ballarat YCW on his retirement from international competition in 1973 and within two years had produced the first of what would be a long list of internationals. During this period a small skinny kid named Steve Moneghetti arrived at St. Patrick’s starting an association that would last through Steve’s foundation years. In 1979 Tony was offered, and accepted, the position of National Coach of the Philippines. At that time the Philippines ranked 29th in Asia. By the time Tony had left the Philippines they had reached 6th place, produced Asian champions and record holders as well as Olympians including a steeplechase semi finalist.

Tony first became involved in triathlon through Emma Carney while still the National T & F Coaching Director of Australia and assisted her with her running during 1993 and 1994 as she started to make her very successful transition from a national class runner to World Champion triathlete.

In June 1993 he left Athletics Australia and by the end of 1994 had a squad of 25 athletes. Since then the squad has grown to the point where there are usually between 70 and 80 athletes training at six to eight different locations around Melbourne as well as interstate and overseas.

Tony Benson has been the Head Coach of Olympic, Commonwealth, World Championship and Asian Games teams, lectured in Africa, Asia and the Pacific on behalf of the International Olympic Committee and International Association of Athletic Federation and put his theories into practice by producing Olympic athletes and World Championship level athletes, triathletes and duathletes.

In 1993, at the insistance of close friend Irv Ray, Tony and Irv produced a best selling coaching book called “Run With The Best”. The philosophies it contained were proven when Irv coached 17 year old Ryan Hall to a 3:42.7/1500m and No2 US high school miler of 2001 and Patrick Sang, a former standout Kenyan steelechaser, used the RWTB principles he adopted after meeting Tony in Nairobi at the 2002 IAAF All Africa Level 2 Coaches’ Course in his preparation of 18 year old 2003 World 5000m champion Elicud Kipchoge.

Finally he has also mixed with elite athletes and coaches from triathlon, cycling and swimming and acknowledges the influence of many of these highly respected and successful people in the construction of his training schedules and in the development of his computer programs. He is a Level 5 Track and Field coach and a Level 3 Triathlon Coach as well as National Track and Field Consultant (AFTCA).


Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association

19 12 2008

Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA)

For the past months, the following questions had been playing in my mind whenever I have my running workouts and during my participation in weekend road races in Metro Manila and in other provinces:

1)      Why is it that there are so many road races every weekend up to the point that at least four road races are being conducted in one day? Is there an instituion or body who should be controlling all of these races?

2)      Why is it that there is no uniform registration fee for every road race? Who should be responsible in controlling the registration fee of every road race?

3)      Who are the registered and authorized “road organizers”? Who controls the prolifiration of road organizers in the country?

4)      Why is it that there are so many running “coaches”? Are these running “coaches” certified and have a permit/s to operate their coaching business? Who controls their “coaching fees”?

5)      What is the organization or institution that covers and governs everything about road races and running in the country?

6)      Who is going to inspect and determine the presence and quality of support system ( like water, security, medical & emergency needs) to be given to runners during road races?

7)      Who determines or certifies a road race if the distance is precise and accurate?

8)      Who gives sanctions to race organizers where there are reported cases of stealing  and other criminal acts committed during road races?

Through my research, I found out that the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) is the international governing body for Athletics (track and field sports, to include road races) and in among member nations/countries, a National Athletics Federation is the governing body for Athletics. In the Philippines, IAAF’s national athletics federation is the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association which is simply called PATAFA. The PATAFA is so powerful that everything that happens in Athletics in the country should happen under the authority of the federation and nothing should be organized without the approval of the federation. It has a great power and at the same time has a great responsibility!

The roles of PATAFA are:

1)      To lead and serve the Federation

2)      To manage all aspects of Athletics

3)      To build on past successes

4)      To ensure a financial basis for present and future activities

5)      To act as guardian of the values of the sport and have the responsibility to set an example and promote these values to the benefit of Athletics.

The following are the functions and obligations of the PATAFA:

A)     On Governance

1)      To be responsible for all aspects of Athletics in the country.

2)      To promote the sport of Athletics and the development of an Athletics Culture.

3)      To provide an appropriate administrative structure and services for the functioning of the Federation and the sport.

4)      To maintain an official list of National Records.

5)      To undertake proceedings against athletes who have rendered themselves ineligible and to impose sanctions where appropriate.

6)      To undertake proceedings against any individual who may have violated the rules of the Federation and to impose sanctions.

B)      On Resources

1)      To obtain and manage the financial, human and technical resources required for the functioning of the Federation.

2)      To set budgets and maintain financial records.

3)      To control expenses.

4)      To arrange for an audit of financial statements.

C)      On Communications

1)      To maintain good relations with and appropriate information to athletes and members of the Federation.

2)      To maintain good relations with the government office responsible for sports and other organizations which have an interest in Athletics or may be of assistance to the Federation.

3)      To maintain good relations with the media in order to ensure the positive promotion of the sport and the Federation’s activities.

D)     On Competitions

1)      To promote the development of a program of competitions including national championships.

2)      To select and organize teams to participate in international competitions.

3)      To maintain a national calendar of Athletics competitions.

4)      To provide official sanctions for competitions including those organized by other parties.

E)      On Facilities and Equipment

1)      To ensure that competition venues and equipment meet the technical specifications mandated by national and international rules.

2)      To guarantee the accurate measurements of road courses used for running and race walking competitions.

F)      On Officials and Coaches

1)      To oversee the recruitment, training, certification, deployment and control of the athletic officials and coaches required to carry out the programs and activities of the sports.

G)     On Medical & Scientific

1)      To plan and coordinate the delivery od sports medicine services to athletes.

2)      To plan and coordinate the delivery of scientific services to coaches and athletes.

3)      To ensure that a doping control program is implemented in accordance with the rules of the IAAF and relevant national regulations.

To confirm all these items I’ve researched, I arranged for an appointment with our country’s President of the PATAFA, Mr Go Teng Kok and I was able to meet and talk to him lengthily about the prevailing situation of athletics and road racing in the country. He confirmed such powers of PATAFA and also admitted that he lacks the resources to implement the rules and regulations/proper administration of Road Races in the country. I presented to him the “projects/programs” that I’ve been doing since I was the Program Director of the DND-AFP Fintong Pangarap for Marathon two years ago and as the “Bald Runner” for the past year. He was surprised to know all these projects. After almost 1 ½ hours of conversation, he asked my assistance for the implementation of the rules and regulations in road racing, of which I accepted on a consultation basis, I think!


Mr Go Teng Kok, Bald Runner & Coach Andaya of FEU at the PATAFA Office

So, to all the Road Organizers, Coaches & “coaches”, Race Sponsors, and the road racers, you know already that there is somebody “up there” who should be supervising us and putting some “sanity” to those numerous weekend races and who should be able to look for each runner’s welfare while participating in a road race.

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