A few years ago, when two-time Pinoy Olympian Gerard Rosario saw a feature of the Olympic greats, he ruled that they were all Americans or Europeans. He thought this would make Pinoys think, “Do I have to be an American or a European to be a great Olympian?”
He recalled thinking that there should be a showcase of Filipino great athletes because there are a lot of great athletes.
“And it would also make future athletes think that it is possible,” he said during Milo’s launch of its Mula Noong Hanggang Ngayon sports program.
In a nutshell, it’s a program that links the great Olympians of yesteryears like Joseph Lizardo of Taekwondo, Bea Lucero, who won two golds and three silvers in gymnastics in the 1987 Southeast Asian Games and a bronze in taekwondo in the 1992 Olympics, to the promising players today like Sophia Ildefenso of volleyball, the Sarmiento siblings of taekwondo and Olympic hopeful Sacho Ilustre.
Ilustre, who won a silver medal in the SEA Games, started his journey in the Milo Little Olympics, a two-rung competition that starts with regional eliminations for the Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and the National Capital Region.
“It was my introduction to qualifying. If I win in the local elims, I can travel to the nationals,” he said.
Ilustre hopes that the road he is travelling will eventually lead to the Olympics, a destination made harder because of the ongoing pandemic.
“All the athletes experienced disrupted routines,” said Rosario. “And because of the disruptions, most of them get demotivated.”
One of the challenges of course is how to remind athletes to get back to what they were doing before the pandemic. To remind them how they came about to achieve their goals and overcome challenges.
For Ilustre, he hopes athletes who are struggling will continue to remind themselves why they are into sport. To keep in touch with both their minor goals and ultimate targets.
“Let’s not forget why we started. For me, my ultimate goal is the Olympics,” he said.
However, Milo’s Mula Noon Hanggang Ngayon program is not just for the Olympic hopefuls. It’s for everyone.
“It’s more of a message to inspire Flipinos to find new ways to stay active at home,” said Lester Castillo, Milo Sports AVP.
He admits, though, that like everyone, the pandemic caught them flat-footed. “There’s no manual for this. We are also learning along the way,” he said. But he was surprised to realize that through its online program, Milo managed to reach out to a lot of athletes.
Aside from getting millions of engagements, its online program had almost 40,000 enrollees, almost quadruple the number of participants of its Milo Little Olympics. Though that number is less than half that for its annual multi-leg marathon, the country’s most widely participated run that attracts almost 150,000 participants, it has inspired Milo to continue with its programs.
“A lot of sports organizers have reached out to us; they want to be part of our advocacy,” he said.
When sports return to normal, Castillo said they will roll out both their on the ground and online programs.