MANILA – Well-known sports leader-turned-public servant Ali Atienza advised the national athletes seeing action in the coming 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila late this year to aspire for the gold medal.
“I’ll tell them (athletes) to go for the gold. Always aim for the gold. That’s the right attitude. It’s gold or nothing,” said Atienza during the 17th Tabloid Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) “Usapang Sports” at the National Press Club in Intramuros, Manila on Thursday.
Atienza, who is best remembered for winning the country’s lone gold medal in the 1994 Asian Taekwondo Championships, said national athletes should not only be physically fit to compete but should also be mentally prepared to go to the battle.
“Yun training ng ating mga atleta sa SEA Games, hindi lang talaga dapat sa physical, kundi pati mental na din (Our athletes in SEA Games should not be physical and mentally ready),” said Atienza, who appeared in the weekly sports forum also supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and National Press Club and sponsored by HG Guyabano Tea Leaf Drink.
“In sports, it is not always 100 percent physical. Usually, mental because if you feel you will not win, don’t compete,” said Atienza, who also headed the Manila Sports Council (MASCO) during the time of his father, Manila Mayor Lito Atienza.
Atienza, who is running as Representative of the 5th district of Manila, said he has instilled the same mindset to Manila athletes during his time at MASCO.
Asked about his plans if he makes it to Congress, Atienza revealed that he would file a bill seeking to make the chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) also an undersecretary of the Department of Education (DepEd).
“The PSC chairman will have a dual function. Aside from heading the country’s sports agency, the chairman will also lead the sports program of the DepEd in line with the grassroots program of the PSC,” Atienza said.
He said the PSC and DepEd should work together to assure continuity of the grassroots program.
Atienza also said the bill filed in Congress that would create a Department of Sports in place of the PSC would not really solve the country’s need to identify and train athletes.
“Ang kailangan lang naman talaga ay naka-focus tayong lahat sa i-isang goal at magtulong-tulong para maisakatuparan ito. (What we need is all of us have one goal and that we need to unite to achieve this),” he said.