Olympians Hidilyn Diaz and Charly Suarez attended a press conference last September 3, 2016 at Michel’s Bistro to show to the public what it truly takes to win an Olympic medal. The event was organized by Silver Mercado of Epic Performance and Fitness, along with colleagues Pio Solon and Angel Lado, and coach Jay Futalan. Michel Lhuillier and Dr. Amparito Lhuiller were also present at the event.

The Philippines received its first Olympic medal when Hidilyn Diaz won silver at the women’s 53kg weightlifting category. She is the Philippine’s first female Olympic medalist at 25 years old.

Charly Suarez, at 27, has been a member of the Philippine national boxing team for over 10 years, but Rio 2016 was his first Olympic game. He was one of the two boxers who represented the Philippines. Although he came home with no medal, he already has a significant track record of wins from other international competitions.

Jay Futalan of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) coaches 200 athletes, four of which competed in the Rio Olympics. According to him, the hardest part about their journey to the top was finding time to rest amidst training all that potential.

“It is the idea of yourself and how you see yourself beyond the now,” Funtalan said when he was asked about how people, especially the Olympic hopefuls, keep motivated with all the stress and pressure

Positive mental imagery is a technique that most athletes practice. Psychology Today puts this visualization as the most powerful mental tool. Athletes motivate themselves by picturing out their goals and medals, or by recalling previous successes.

“When thinking about successful competition, do not focus on the differences and look at the similarities instead,” he advised.

Furthermore, Suarez said that it is balancing the bad thoughts that can bring a person down. He encourages everyone to “strive to step up [to the next level].” For example, despite not bringing any medals this year, he is focused on winning the next step — the 2020 Olympic games.

“Rely on yourself for motivation. You have to believe in yourself,” said Diaz, who attributes her motivation to her self-confidence and self-reliance. According to her, while motivation from others is encouraging, nothing beats believing in your own self. That way, when others lose faith in you, you will not lose hope.

Tips and tricks like positive mental imagery is only one of the many conclusions from researches done on sports in order to enhance an athlete’s performance. Throughout the event, Futalan stressed the importance of sports science. The recent Olympics has proven that Filipinos are equal in skill and talent to other much more developed countries. Other countries conduct tests to identify areas of improvement and publish multiple and varied research papers on sports science. Those foreign researches and methods are not always applicable for local athletes due to cultural differences that affect diet among other things. By applying those foreign methods, we are not able to truly maximize the skills and talents of our local athletes.

He is positive that the new administration will make the Philippine Sports Institute a reality. It is set to go active in October. This institute will help bring sports to the countryside for talent identification and development, and train existing athletes. The PSC will partner with the Department of Education and the Local Government Units.

Moreover, Futalan said that “dreaming big is the way to go” for upcoming and aspiring athletes.

Suarez, however, reminds them of Matthew 6:33 — “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

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