By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
The government, through the Philippine Sports Commission, is doing everything it can to provide for national athletes despite the pandemic after it released more than half a billion pesos for their campaigns in 2020 alone.
The figure was based on PSC’s financial statement over the past 10 years detailing the funding of every national sports association since 2010.
As expected, Olympic sports got the lion’s share of the P523 million the PSC disbursed to the NSAs last year for the country’s bid to win the elusive gold medal in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Medal-rich sports athletics and swimming, which also has a number of athletes training abroad, received the most funding last year with the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association getting P 34.4 million and Philippine Swimming Inc. receiving P28.2 million.
Part of PATAFA’s expenses went to the training and competition of Olympic-bound pole vaulter EJ Obiena, who has been under the care of elite Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov in a training camp in Italy for the past years.
Some Fil-American athletes, who are also national record-holders like pole vaulter Natalie Uy and trackster Kristina Knott, are also based in the United States.
Boxing, which produced two Olympic qualifiers in Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial, also received P24.1 million funding last year with hopes of having more qualifiers.
A constant gold mine in various tournaments and one of the sports deemed to have the best chance of winning an Olympic gold, the PH boxing team is currently in a training camp in Thailand.
The PSC also released P18.7 million to the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines, most of it subsidizing the training of world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo who is currently in Japan under Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya.
In 2019, the PSC also released almost P1.2 billion in financial assistance to athletes’ trainings.
This boosted the athletes’ performance at the 31st Southeast Asian Games, which resulted to 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals for the overall championship.
Among sports associations that got the most funding in 2020 were rowing (P16.5 million), weightlifting (P13 million), taekwondo (P12.5 million), karate (P11.9 million), fencing (P11.6 million), canoe-kayak/dragonboat (P10.8 million) and baseball (P10.2 million).
Financial assistance improved from P145 million in 2010 to P332.7 million in 2015, with an average release of P465.5 million per year in 11 years.
“We were never lacking in 2020. Maski walang competitions, walang training the whole year, nagawan naman ng paraan,” said PSC Commissioner Mon Fernandez.