My wish list for Philippine Athletics

Welcome 2010!  New year, new hope.  Here are my new year wishes for my beloved sports:

1. Maximize the Cyberspace – There’s no doubt that the internet, nowadays, is the best medium to get to your target market/audience.  Its is the most efficient and most effective in sharing information and news, across all genre: from  kids to senior citizens, and across economic groupings:  from minimum wage earners to successful businessmen.

PATAFA , currently has a blog at multiply  (link) and has a sub page in the POC website.  The latter is just a PR (not interactive) page where you can get the names of the current PATAFA president, secretary general, fax number, address and the email address of the said National Sports Assocation (NSA).

While having a multiply account is a great start, PATAFA can still give more to its athletes and followers other than posting meet/race results (of the NCAA, UAAP, Colgate Weekly Relays and the National Open), provide links to IAAF articles, and post pictures of selected international meets where our national athletes have competed.

How about a website where archives of the sport that talks about the biographies of our athletes who represented our country and have international titles?  Schedules and events of major track meets like National Open so that our athletes and coaches can prepare for them accordingly.

PATAFA can also post entries in the Wikipilipinas or Wikipedia to promote the sport and help provide young athletes the information they needed as they search for a local athlete that they can emulate.

2. Power Rankings – If you ask an athletics afficionado today “Who is the number 1 ranked 100 meter sprinter of our country this year?”, chances are, you will be given two answers, one is who won the National Open, and second is, who registered the fastest time this year.

British Athletics do their rankings according to the rankings of athletes in each meet or championship.  Points awarded depends on the importance and depth coverage of the championship.  Hence National Championships award higher points than County Championships (District level to us).

Or we can adopt a simple system of ranking the athletes depending on their best time/performance recorded for each event during the year.

Regardless of the system,  there should be a  monthly update of the rankings.  This will surely motivate and inspire athletes to do even better in their upcoming events if they see their current rankings.

3. Motivate the running clubs/teams and coaches – Aside from the athletes, why not inspire the coaches and club officials by giving them an annual award?  Athletic clubs are maximized in the UK and USA and as a result, the Athletic Commission has a year long pool of talents that can be tapped at any given time of the year.

We can adopt the points system of the British Athletics as discussed in number 2 above.

4. Market/Merchandise the athletes – Let’s tap the enormous fund of the Corporate world.  Let’s approach Corporations with sports inclination and ask them to adopt one athlete where they can fund his/her international races for precious exposures and international experience.  PATAFA can apply for a Donee Certification from the BIR so that all funds given to the athlete can be treated as deductions from their taxable income.  A steady source of fund can make or break an athlete.

5. The 4 minute mile/3:40 metric mile –  It’s been 56 years since this barrier has been broken by Sir Roger Bannister and 53 years since the Stanislav Jungwirth went under 3:40 in the 1,500m run.  But the Philippines has yet to achieve these athletic milestones.  A number of Asian countries have passed the metric mile mark already like Japan, China and South Korea to name a few.  Let’s catch up with our Asian neighbors first, then with the world.

6. Asian Games medal of any color for Athletics – the last 3 Pinoy athletes that brought home an Asian Games medals are all long retired. They are Isidro del Prado: 400m dash silver (1986), Elma Muros: 400m hurdles bronze (1990) and long jump bronze (1994), Lydia de Vega: 100m gold and 200m silver (1986). Note that the Team RP also won the bronze of the mens 4x400m relay at the 1986 Asian Games.  I hope and pray that our long draught will come to an end this 2010!

7. Emergence of a  great rivalry – Remember the rivalry of Lydia de vega and Elma Muros early in their career?  Their non-aggressive, non-confrontational competition in the 100 meters spurred the interest of the ordinary Filipino masses.  Of course, their SEA Games, and Asian Games medals greatly helped flame their rivalry, though they later became more warm & friendly towards each other near the end of their international careers.   They also explained that they never hated each other, they are just focused on their tasks, i.e. bringing home the medals for the country.

Another great example is the heated rivalry of  road kings Primo Ramos and Herman Suizo during the late 80s until the early 90s. Their intense competition benefitted Philippine roadracing as the national records in the 15k, 10 miles (16k) 20k, half marathon (21k) and the full marathon (42k) were lowered alternately by these two gentlemen.

8. International Meets in our backyard – The ongoing economic crunch might curb down the possibility of more international exposures for our athletes this year.  One alternative is to hold the meets here in our country.  2 important things here are: 1. Finding the willing sponsors and 2. Attracting the marquee players/athletes to spur interest from the public.

We have to look for new corporate sponsors aside from Milo and Colgate to help athletics.  This is where the top executives of PATAFA will come in and tap into their network.  Also, the meets that we are going to hold here should attract not just Asian greats but also Olympic medalist from other continents.  Not since 2 time Olympic gold medalist (1976 & 1980) German marathoner Waldemar Cierpinski graced the 1st Metro Manila International Marathon in 1982, have we seen a marquee athlete ran on Philippine soil.  Of course, the appearance fee would be astronomical but the benefit will far outweigh the cost.

9. Emergence of Street Mile Races – For the past couple of years Botak, has sponsored street mile races ala New York’s 5th Avenue Mile Race.  But for the event to flourish, we need to have more race organizers try out this category.

10. More media exposure – Let’s face it, Philippines is a basketball country.  And all newspapers and TV and Radio programs have basketball as their staples in their sports sections.  But athletics hardly land on the daily news.  I’ve only learned of Marestella Torre’s (long jump) gold medal effort in the Asian Athletics Championship in the IAAF website.

So these are my 10 wishes for Philippine athletics this 2010.  It will be a miracle if only 2 from the above will come true, but who knows, we all believe in miracles don’t we?

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