WITH the olympic torch still fired up for the London 2012 Olympics, inspiring Filipino athletes (and an NBA champion coach) seem to come out of the woodwork.
2012 NBA champ and Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra leads the pack, bringing the token of his team’s sweet victory to the Philippines — a two-foot, 14.5 lb. trophy in 24-karat gold overlay.
But beyond the glossy NBA trophy, Coach Spo brings an even shinier source of inspiration to the table — he is the first Filipino-American coach (and the first coach of Asian descent) to earn an NBA championship under his belt. And even better, he takes pride in being “every inch” Filipino, going through great lengths to squeeze in a visit to the Philippines for his NBA Trophy Tour and its great outreach program.
“The NBA loves the fans out here. And we’re here to share and spread the joy. We’re trying to spend as much time with kids, and wish we had more time,” he said.
He shares that his Filipina mother taught him the value of giving back.
“That’s what my mother passed along to me. It’s about learning how to give back. And I feel fortunate. I’m trying to reach as many kids as I can. I learned this quality from my mother,” he said.
Meanwhile, US gymnast Kyla Ross (who is part-Filipino) brings home the gold with the rest of Team USA: McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman, Gabrielle Douglas and Jordyn Wieber, for the first time in more than a decade.
Friends and supporters of the Fil-Am gymnast (some wearing Kyla t-shirts) gathered at a local restaurant in Orange County to watch Ross’s performance on the balance beam and bars, reports Balitang America.
For Mark Anthony Barriga (who is the Philippines’ lone bet in boxing and has been nicknamed “Little Pacquiao”), pound for pound king Manny Pacquiao offers a sweet deal — a guaranteed bonus if Barriga gets into the medal round.
In moments of victory, it is good to know that Filipino athletes are going beyond the sheen of winning. Instead, they serve as beacons — illuminating the way for every aspiring kababayan.
Unlike gold, victories don’t last forever. The best these athletes can do is to pass on the torch to the next aspirant.
As Dan Gable once said: “Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.”