By Jomel Anthony Gutierrez, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau and U.S. News Agency / Asian
A few days before the 2012 London Olympics, Filipinos are flocking to social media networks to show their support for the Philippines’ Olympic athletes.
The London Olympics is dubbed as ‘the first social games’ since this would be the first time that more people all over the world are using Twitter and Facebook to talk about the biggest sports event on earth.
Filipinos are always on the lead when using the social media to cheer for their kababayan who are making healdines abroad like Charice Pempengco and Jessica Sanchez.
This time Pinoy social media users are showing their supports for the 11 Filipino athletes who are competing for the London Olympics.
The Philippine contingent is composed of Brian Rosario (skeet shooting) Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Lacuna (swimming), Mark Anthony Barriga (boxing), Marestella Torres and Rene Herrera (athletics), Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting), Tomohiko Hoshina (judo), Daniel Caluag (rider), Rachel Anne Cabral and Mark Javier (archery).
Cabral and Javier are the first to compete on the day of the Opening Ceremony on Friday.
Filipino well-wishers have been tweeting support and posting good luck messages on Facebook for Pinoy Olympians.
Olympic swimmers Alkhaldi and Lacuna are two of the youngest athletes who are part of the Philippine Olympic team. They are both using the social media to connect with their supporters, friends and family.
Alkhaldi’s twitter feed is full of encouraging messages from her followers.
From user Noel Nuñez @noelandgina: “@jsmnalkhaldi jasmine good luck on your event!!! go out and be your best!!!!!!”
One user even posted a link of a video report on ANC featuring Alkhaldi’s profile as an athlete.
Camila Benipayo @camilabenipayo “@jsmnalkhaldi http://bit.ly/OqwXjq — And when were you going to tell me about this?! So, so proud. Rooting and praying for you, Ja.”
The day Alkhaldi left the Philippines for London, a follower said she wants to be just like the swimmer someday. From Dan Katrina Leyba @_Katrinuuuuh “@jsmnalkhaldi Hi Ate Jasmine! I wanna be like you someday! Goodluck sa olympics, God is with you always :)) #FilipinoPride.”
Alkhaldi is thankful for all the support they are getting from their Twitter followers and Facebook friends.
“Siyempre we feel very blessed and grateful for all the support. And it really encourages us to perform our best which we certainly will naman”, she said.
She noted social media has allowed her to communicate with everyone, especially her family.
“Social media is so important kasi it’s very easy to get in touch with your friends and loved ones,” she said.
Jessie King Lacuna’s Twitter is also filled with messages of support.
Two of his Twitter followers were encouraging him to win an Olympic medal.
From sen sen @artsysienna “@jessielacuna00 good luck sa london olympics bring home the gold”
From Rheinell Malinis @CleanItUpRJ “@jessielacuna00 hello po! Good luck sa Olympics! Medal sana! Hahah :D”
Lacuna admitted that the messages of encouragement from fellow Filipinos have made him very happy.
“Siyempre masya na kahit papaano napapakita nila yung pagsuporta nila even na yung ibang hindi kilala. Nakakatuwa,” Lacuna said.
Meanwhile, Gay Mauricio-Corral, coach of Olympic skeet shooter Brian Rosario and avid social media users, weighed in on the advantages and disadvantages of social media.
“I think the power of social media is two-pronged. It can be good and bad for the athlete at the same time”, she said.
Corral stressed that social media can inspire the athletes but it can also destruct them.
“It’s good that the athlete can read all the praise and support of their fans but it can blow up or dash their egos if there are negative remarks made,” she said. “Their ego could be so inflated or deflated that it will somehow take away from giving their all in training.”
Corral is actually happy that her player, Brian Rosario, is not into social media.
“It’s fortunate that Brian is not someone who is immersed in social media. It is just too distracting for an athlete and would take away the much-needed focus while training,” she added.
Corral gave some advice to other Pinoy Olympians regarding the use of social media networking sites.
“As a coach, I would tell my shooter to refrain from being too connected while preparing for a competition,” she said.