DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan -- A former Olympic swimmer has lauded the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) and the athletes’ performances, particularly the swimming team, during the competitions.
“The hosting of the SEA Games is something all Filipinos should be proud of,” Ryan Arabejo said in an interview Wednesday.
Arabejo represented the country in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, while he was a four-time member of the Philippines National Swimming Team, which represented the country in the SEA Games in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011. He also joined in the 2007 World Championships and twice in the Asian Games in 2006 and 2010.
Comparing the SEA Games, he had participated in and the just concluded SEA Games, Arabejo said, it is “almost the same thing”, except that the athletes have a different mindset or perspective now.
"It is just about competitiveness but at present, Singapore has Joseph Schooling who had won Olympic gold medal. The perspective before is that if Singapore is the competitor, then, we have no chance, which is not supposed to be the case. I'm very happy with what happened with the national team because that notion was removed, and they won,” he said.
He added the Philippines swimming team fought a good fight regardless of who their rivals were.
“I'm happy that after 10 years, we again won a gold medal in swimming. It is more special because it happened here in the Philippines,” Arabejo said.
James Deiparine won the first gold medal of the country in the SEA Games swimming competition in 10 years, and even launched a record-breaking performance in the 100-meter breaststroke.
Arabejo conducted a short seminar for the members of the Dagupan City Swim Team here on Wednesday, and even gave pointers to the swimmers who were having their regular training.
Arabejo also encouraged the local government units to support their athletes and have their own sports programs, as he commended the city government of Dagupan headed by Mayor Marc Brian Lim for its sports program.
"I'm very happy with (the) local government unit (LGU) of Dagupan because of its full support to the athletes, and Mayor Lim is proud of our athletes whether they win or not. For me, sports cannot give money back, but it can give a lot of pride. I wish other LGUs give effort to sports because it creates better people in the community. Sports take away children from bad vices. Sports teaches them discipline, hard work and commitment," he added.
The swimmers, who are training under the city's swimming program had the opportunity to watch at the New Clark City Aquatics Center on Dec. 4, which was arranged by the Dagupan City Sports Commission (DCSC).
“It was some sort of an emersion for them to see in person the great swimmer in Asia compete against each other, to inspire them to train hard and have a goal,” said DCSC vice chairman Carlos Alipio Fernandez, himself a swimmer athlete. (PNA)