WITH next year’s Tokyo Games being trumpeted as the country’s best chance to win its first-ever Olympic gold, Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero of 1Pacman Partylist on Monday called on all sports leaders and major stakeholders to give newly-elected Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino all the support he needs to realize that long-cherished dream.
On a day the country celebrated the birth anniversary of revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio, Romero said it’s high time to revolutionize Philippine sports and make a difference in international competitions like the Olympics.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate my good friend, Cong. Bambol, for securing a full four-year term this time. It’s a tough job being the president of POC but I know he can handle it like a seasoned leader both as sportsman and politician,” said the former amateur basketball godfather.
Tolentino, who represents Tagaytay City in the House of Representatives, beat out archery chief Clint Aranas in another hotly-contested election last Friday for his first four-year term.
But to make the Olympic dream a reality, Romero urged everybody to unite and put an end to “sports politics” which has stunted the growth of some sports.
“We have to plan and work as one because the coming Tokyo Games is really our best chance. No more politics in sports because it destroys the three values of Olympism which are excellence, friendship, and respect,” said Romero.
“It’s better that they work with Cong. Bambol for the sake of Philippine sports,” added Romero who noted the support of Filipinos working in the vibrant city of Tokyo will greatly impact the performance of PH bets.
The cycling chief, however, will have his hands full next year.
Apart from the Tokyo Games that was rescheduled in July due to coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the national athletes will also be preparing for the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, the 4th Asian Youth Games and 6th Asian Beach Games in China, and the 6th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Thailand.
“With so many international tournaments next year, I hope our elite athletes will be given the right training so Cong. Bambol will need financial support from the government and private sectors,” said Romero, who is one of the leading lights of the Philippine National Federation of Polo Players (PNFPP).
But Romero is happy to note about the continued training of boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, and gymnast Carlos Yulo – all of them have already qualified for the quadrennial spectacle.
“They are the country’s top gold medal prospects so far but I am looking forward to more qualifiers,” said Romero.
Those with realistic chances of making the grade are 2016 Rio de Janeiro silver medal winner Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting; boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, Rogen Ladon, and Ian Clark Bautista; and golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan.
“They say the more, the merrier, but for us, the more athletes we can send, the bigger chances we can have,” said Romero who is hopeful that other national bets will excel in the respective qualifiers set early next year.