It takes a village to produce a world-class athlete, who needs a well-oiled team of experts to deliver a winning performance in international tournaments like the Olympic Games.
Just ask the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee.
The PSC calls it the “Hidilyn Model,” wherein its board approved a support team for Hidilyn Diaz after her silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“We have limited resources, but we saw her potential so we took the chance,” said Ramirez when the PSC gave its approval to hire for Diaz a foreign coach, strength and conditioning coach, masseuse, sports psychologist and a sports nutritionist, collectively known as Team HD.
The result was the Philippines’ first-ever gold medal in the Olympiad, courtesy of Diaz in the 55kg weightlifting competitions of the Tokyo games.
Ramirez and the PSC board of commissioners provided the same support, based on their submitted requirements, for gymnast Caloy Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obiena and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, among others.
“I have always said, experience is an advantage. Hidilyn took four Olympic cycles to finally attain her golden dream,” said the sports chief, whose own experience as a two-term Chairman of the PSC helped him lead effectively.
POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino also stressed the importance of having such a group of experts backing up athletes during international competitions.
“Kagaya kay Hidilyn, nasa backroom ang labanan,” said Tolentino, referring to Team HD, which includes Diaz’s Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen, strength and conditioning specialist Julius Naranjo, sports nutritionist Jeaneth Aro and sports psychologist Dr. Karen Trinidad.
The POC chief said it was not only Diaz which had support groups that are helping them.
“May nakatutok sa kanila na mga psychologists at doktor. Hindi naman sila pinababayaan,” added Tolentino.
Support groups will also play an important role in the campaigns of golfers Juvic Pagunsan, Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan.
The needs of Obiena and sprinter Kristina Knott will also be addressed in their competitions in athletics.
The PSC has quietly supported the national team, spending around 2.7 billion to cover its expenses, such as foreign exposures, trainings, equipment, meals supplies and allowances. Ramirez disclosed that looking forward to the 2024 Paris Olympics now becomes a rosier picture to look forward to. By then we would have a more mature team to field.
“I think it gives everyone a more impetus to plan and start their preparations,” said Ramirez, smiling “pero dito muna tayo, savor the moment and keep praying for more moments of victories for our athletes and the Filipino people.”
After the Tokyo Olympics, though, the PSC wants to buckle down to work by creating a playbook, some sort of a blueprint on how to prepare athletes for the Olympiad.
“Gagawin namin ang playbook. These are plans towards the Olympics in Paris, Los Angeles and Brisbane,” said Ramirez.
The PSC chief said he and members of the board will deliberate on the playbook in the coming weeks. This will serve as a direction for athletes, coaches, the national sports associations and the private sponsors in their efforts to assist the government agency prepare for major international competitions.
The PSC chief explained that the playbook will be for the next leaders of the government sports agency to deal with, when the administration changes in the next nine months.
“Kung hindi namin gagawin ito, baka magkaroon ng problema. So it will be an important blueprint for the coming administration,” said Ramirez.