EXCITEMENT fills the air after Elien Rose Perez wowed the country for her recent gold wins in the Asian Cup and the Asian Inter-Club Weightlifting Championships in South Korea. Prior to this, Perez also earned three bronze medals in the Asian Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championship in Nepal last July. She will then compete in the Southeast Asian Games 2019.
With these feats, will the 19-year-old Boholana get the highest Olympic dream?
This depends on crucial factors involved. In athletics, as in other fields, winning is a state of mind. Perez has the focus, discipline and determination to move higher. Truth be told, she fixes in her barbell studies in criminology and two hours daily training. According to Perez, this is a tough balancing act; but despite the pressure, she still gets decent grades. Her strategy: she enrolls only 18 units at the University of Bohol to concentrate more on the lifting regimen. Every national player representing the country is expected to pass this common quiz; as she excels in sports, she should pass her subjects in school, too.
Is this common quiz strategic? If I may give my two cents worth, there are two issues: first is, this requirement ensures the future of Philippine athletes; the second, however, looks at this precept as a distraction. If authorities have already seen the athletic qualities of a person, why demand more as if education is the only key towards a more decent life? This goes back to the common notion that academic prowess is always a relevant form of genius which I disagree. The person involved should have been pegged at the right place for a laser focus—in this case, honing a psychomotor form of genius that should be treated as an equal to any form of genius–leading to more eminence.
In a sport like weightlifting, an athlete not only lifts barbells. We assume that Perez battles with pain, injuries and fatigue, not just with gravity. She already had injuries which she shrugged away. This shows that the weightlifter should not just be disciplined, strong and skillful; she must be an iron like what she lifts because this is a battle of wills. The strongest will prevails.
Much also depends on her coach, Samuel Alegada. Not only is Alegada a force to reckon with as a three-time gold medalist in the SEA Games; he is also Perez’s uncle. His blood relationship with Perez adds meaning to the mentoring equation.
If we base it on precedence, I see a 100 percent possibility of her getting a gold medal in SEA Games 2019 and a 60 percent probability of getting a silver medal during the Olympics. How about the probability of a gold medal finish in the Olympics? I believe it is 50 percent this time.
These probability estimates, however, can increase if the Philippine Sports Commission relaxes the demand for athletes to comply academic requirements and grants a full scholarship for Perez. She has a partial scholarship from the university, but this is not enough.
In Bohol and nearby provinces, foundations should initiate a drive to give incentives for national athletes. They should have raised an incentive of, say P1 million, for getting a gold in SEA Games 2019 and a higher amount for the Olympics. Not only is this move strategic; these foundations can be assured that such initiative leads to national paragons—the next Manny Pacquiao.
But what can supersede the most rational way to prepare for a higher prize? I find it in this quote: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us (1 John 5:14).” If He hears our prayers—which He always does through our faith–there can be no boundary to what we can achieve.
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