By JEREMIAH SEVILLA
San Miguel Corporation (SMC) President Ramon S. Ang has pledged a total of P22 million in incentives to the Tokyo Olympics medalists who carried the Philippines to its greatest performance yet in 97 years of competing in the biggest sporting stage.
Ang, a longtime sports patron, will hand a “personal gift” of P10 million to the country’s first-ever gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz, P5 million each to silver winners Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam and P2 million to bronze finisher Eumir Marcial as announced by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) earlier.
“As a longtime partner and supporter of Philippine sports, I’m so happy for our athletes. All their hard work paid off. They’ve opened the eyes of so many Filipinos sports patrons, fans, and aspiring athletes that indeed, we Filipinos can compete and win against the best in the world in the Olympics. This is just the beginning. We have the momentum. We can only get stronger in the succeeding Olympics,” said Ang.
Diaz, who has been backed by SMC for years, ended the country’s hunt for an Olympic gold when she ruled the women’s weightlifting 55-kilogram category with Olympic records of 127 kg in clean and jerk and total of 224 kg.
“I’m especially grateful to Hidilyn, whom we’ve supported for several years now, for giving honor to the country by winning our very first Olympic gold medal,” said Ang.
On the other hand, boxers Petecio and Paalam seized silvers in the women’s featherweight and men’s flyweight, respectively, while Marcial notched bronze in the men’s middleweight.
“We can build on these successes to develop stronger sports programs and produce more Olympic winners like Hidilyn, Carlo, Nesthy,and Eumir,” added the chief of one of the largest conglomerates in the Philippines.
Ang added that the Olympic athletes as well as their coaches and teams gave the Philippines more than just medals especially amid the challenging times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The message of this Olympic campaign for us Filipinos is clear. We are resilient in the face of challenges and we do not back down from adversity. This pandemic is perhaps one of the greatest challenges in our lifetime. Thank you Hidilyn, Carlo, Nesthy, and Eumir for giving us hope and inspiration during this critical time. You showed us that nothing is impossible,” he said.
Even before the Tokyo Games, SMC has consistently supported the country’s participation and hosting of international competitions, including the staging of 2019 Southeast Asian Games wherein the Philippines also completed its best performance so far in 42 years of participation with a medal haul of 149 golds, 117 silvers and 121 bronzes.
Ang, through SMC, is also a major supporter of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Awards. The 56-year-old 100-member association holds the annual awarding ceremony to honor athletes, coaches, officials and organizations that made a significant impact to Philippine sports.