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President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday called on the athletes going to the Rio Olympics to make the country proud as the Philippines attempts to put an end not only to its 20-year medal drought but to produce its first gold.
“Just try your best because not everybody is given the chance to serve his country,” said Duterte during a courtesy call held at Malacanang.
Only six of the 12 athletes who have secured berths to the Aug. 5 to 21 sportsfest were present as half are in the thick of training overseas.
Present were long jumper Marestella Torres, lifters Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia, Ian Lariba of table-tennis, golfer Miguel Tabuena and taekwondo jin Kirstie Elaine Alora, Rio Games chief of mission Joey Romasanta, POC president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco and Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez.
It is boxing that Duterte singled out as a potential producer, noting its track record and the emergence of Manny Pacquiao.
“Boxing is do-or-die that’s why Filipinos excel, foremost is Manny Pacquiao,” said Duterte.
“I’ll give you an island (if you win the gold),” said Duterte as he reminded the aspirants of the P10 million cash incentive in the event of a gold medal, P5 million for a silver and P2 million for a bronze.