PH athletes get first crack at New Clark City Athletics Stadium

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Capas, Tarlac (CNN Philippines, July 4) — Members of the Philippine track and field team were able to try out the New Clark City Athletics Stadium on Wednesday.

It marked the first time that athletes were allowed to set foot and train in the world-class sporting facility.

BCDA President Vince Dizon, in an exclusive interview with CNN Philippines, revealed that national team members can be housed in the Athletes’ Village as early as August.

The athletes can also utilize the Athletics Stadium and Aquatics Center for training

“We always talk about the Philippines becoming a sports powerhouse in the region. But the thing is, we haven’t really supported our athletes," Dizon said. "The last time we built a stadium was in 1934 — the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Before we demand that our athletes perform at the international level... I think our athletes deserve to have the kind of facilities that modern countries have.”

Senator Pia Cayetano, a sports advocate herself, sees the value in allowing athletes access to the facility three months before actual competition.

"It’s a win-win. For the organizers, because they’ll get to see ‘what do we fix’. Normal naman yan. [That's normal for them.] And for the athletes to be able to live in a world class facility and feel that they are valued.”

Two-time SEA Games gold medalist Nikko Huelgas welcomed the news.

"Eto na talaga. Naeenganyo nga ang mga national athletes natin lalo na ang mga track and field athletes natin that we can have a better chance at winning more gold medals for the country," Huelgas said.

[Translation: "This is it. National athletes, especially those in track and field, are inspired and feel that they have a better chance at winning more gold medals for the country."]

The sports facility form part of Phase-1A of the New Clark City Government Administrative Center. It also includes a 2,000-seater Aquatics Center, a 525-room Athletes' Village, and a 1.4-kilometer river park.

Nearly 10,000 athletes from 11 countries are expected to compete in the 56 sports that will be played in the upcoming regional meet. The Philippine Arena will serve as venue of the opening ceremony on November 30. While on December 11, the New Clark City Athletics Stadium will host the closing ceremony, where international music group Black Eyed Peas is expected to perform.