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Filipino divers draw laughs but proud of representing country

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A video of their dives has gone viral and attracted more than 1.2 million views so far, prompting the Philippines sports authorities to demand explanations from their coach.

Filipino divers John David Pahoyo and John Elmerson Fabriga bombed so badly in their 3-metre springboard diving finals during the SEA Games competition on Thursday that they have become the butt of jokes worldwide, with some describing them as the “Splash Brothers”.

Photo: SGAG Facebook page
Photo: SGAG Facebook page

Fabriga was the first to take the dive, but appeared to have slipped on the board, tumbling in the air and hitting the water with his back.

He was later followed by Pahoyo who crashed awkwardly into the water feet first.

Both scored zero points for their effort, and ended with 7th and 8th place. Malaysia took the gold, while Indonesia and Singapore won the silver and bronze medals respectively.

A video of the dives by the Filipinos was then posted online and almost immediately went viral, with many making fun of the divers.

But it was no laughing matter to the Philippines authorities, where its Sport Commission chairman, Richie Garcia, is reportedly seeking an explanation from Mark Joseph, who heads the country’s Aquatic Sports Association.

"I will give the opportunity for the Philippine Swimming Inc. president to explain because he fought for these divers to come here and compete," Garcia was reported to have said to the Philippine media.

"I saw these boys train at Rizal Memorial and they are good."

Mr Joseph, however, laid the blame on the lack of support for the sport.

“They’re new, they’re young they’re fist-timers at this level, so don’t expect fireworks... we only have one training center,” he said.

“But with their performances, I am not surprised, I am not surprised. The amount of money that is spent in our sports is nothing compared to our kalaban [competitors]. It’s that simple,” he added.

“We always like it to be better, but maybe it should teach a lesson to everybody that if you don’t invest … don’t expect,” he said. “It takes years and years to make a champion.”

“The reality is we are really left behind. Look at the Rizal Memorial (Sports Complex) compared to what you see here (in Singapore),” he added.

On some comments which said if the divers were not up to par they should not have been sent to compete in such a big event, Mr Joseph had this to say:

“Because if you don’t compete, you’ll never know (how far behind you are). The point is to participate, whether you win or lose. You fight. What are we gonna do, not show up?”

As for the two divers themselves, they seem to have taken the whole furore in their stride.

Mr Pahoyo, however, revealed that perhaps they didn’t have much time to prepare for their event.

Posting a video compilation of their dives in the synchronised diving events on his Facebook page on Tuesday, he said the pair had only 4 days to train for them.

Still, he thanked their coach for the “endless support and immeasurable love” in helping them prepare for the competition.

Mr Pahayo also asked why people were only interested in their failed dives and not the ones where they did well.

“Why share our failed dives, when you can share the dives that we did well?” he posted along with the video compilation.

"I am still proud because not all of us have the privilege to represent our own country [in a] big sporting event like this," he wrote.

"Can you still smile after getting embarrassed in front of thousands of people?"

Many Filipinos also expressed support for the duo’s effort in representing their country.

“It's not about winning, it's about what you did and your sportsmanship that counts,” commenter Jo Jo Dakay posted.

“No matter what other people think... You kids did an awesome job,” said Mimaw Cruz. “Keep on striving, keep on aiming for better goals.. Don't let them pull you down... Be proud!”

Fabriga and Pahoyo, however, were not the only divers to fail at the ongoing Games.

Several competitors in the women's 10m platform chose to dive from 7.5m or even 5m, and many also landed awkwardly.

Here is the video of the awkward dives: