By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Knowing the hard work and sacrifices Filipino athletes went through since the start of their training, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) big boss Ramon S. Ang has sweetened the pot for members of Team Philippines who will win medals at the Tokyo Olympics.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino disclosed this yesterday, saying the business tycoon and sportsman is offering P10 million for every gold medal, P5 million for silver and P2 million for bronze as an added boost for the 19 Filipino athletes seeing action in the Games slated July 23.
The development brings the total cash incentives of P30 million for every gold medal, P15 million for silver and P6 million for bronze.
The financial reward will be an added motivation for members of Team PH to give their best and win the elusive gold medal in the event badly hit by COVID-19.
The Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation had earlier pledged the same amount of incentives for Filipino Olympic medalists, matching the amount that the Philippine government will give under the law.
No Filipino athlete has won the Olympic gold but Tolentino is confident it is now within reach.
“We will win that gold as one,” said Tolentino during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Online Forum.
“That will be our battlecry. Definitely meron yan (Olympic gold medal).”
The Team PH boasts of world champions in Nesthy Petecio (boxing) and Carlos Yulo (gymnastics), world silver medalist Eumir Marcial (boxing), world No. 6 pole vaulter EJ Obiena, US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso (golf), and 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting), to name a few.
Completing the cast are sprinter Kristina Knott, swimmers Luke Gebbie and Remedy Rule, rower Cris Nievarez, weightlifter Elreen Ando, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, shooter Jayson Valdez, judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, boxers Carlo Paalam and Irish Magno, and golfers Juvic Pagunsan and Bianca Pagdanganan.
Meanwhile, Tolentino said they might replace Obiena as the country’s male flag-bearer at the opening ceremony due to changes in Olympic protocols.
Under the new protocol, flag-bearers must be in Tokyo 48 hours before the July 23 opening.
Tolentino said Obiena is scheduled to arrive from Formia, Italy on July 23 and his travel itinerary can no longer be changed.
The POC will look into the travel and competition details of the remaining male athletes before announcing the changes by Wednesday.