By: June Navarro (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

US coach sees 9 SEAG golds for PH track team
By: June Navarro (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

A SPEED coach from the US Olympic fitness and training facility in San Diego, California, has predicted nine gold medals for the Philippines in the track and field competitions of the Burma (Myanmar) Southeast Asian Games.

Philippine chef de mission Jeff Tamayo yesterday said the fearless projection came from Ryan Flaherty, a 30-year-old high-profile running coach who studied the form and dynamics of Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest sprinter.

Tamayo said Flaherty floated the daring forecast after the US-based trainer, who majored in kinesiology and earned a master’s degree in biomechanics, saw the profiles and performances of the national tracksters.

“Ryan told us not to pay him if we don’t win nine gold medals (in the SEA Games),” said Tamayo, the point-man of the country’s preparations for the Burma meet on Dec. 11 to 22.

According to Tamayo, Flaherty didn’t identify the promising tracksters who could shine in the games but was positive that sprinters and middle-distance runners could benefit from his program.

A source told the Inquirer that sports leaders would be willing to pay Flaherty, who played varsity football, basketball and track and field in high school and football in college, $10,000 a month if he could whip the national athletes into shape for the SEA Games and the Asian Games.

If ever, Flaherty’s monthly take will be the biggest for a foreign coach hired by either the Philippine Sports Commission or the POC.
PSC chair Richie Garcia said Flaherty’s recent visit was part of the Philippines’ memorandum of agreement with the US Olympic fitness and training team based in San Diego.

Tamayo, the POC 2nd vice president, said Flaherty sees a pool of talents in the national team capable of following the footsteps of Lydia De Vega, Asia’s sprint queen in the 80s.

“We haven’t produced a hundred-meter athlete who could win in the Asian Games since Lydia. He (Flaherty) said it can be done with the talents that we have,” said soft tennis association president.