Wrestling Association of the Philippines (WAP) president Alvin Aguilar said he was surprised that grappling was excluded from the wrestling agenda for this year’s SEA Games.
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Alvin Aguilar appeals for more events
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - May 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Wrestling Association of the Philippines (WAP) president Alvin Aguilar said yesterday he has been referred by POC president Ricky Vargas to appeal to POC chairman Rep. Bambol Tolentino, SEAG Federation Sports and Rules Committee chairman Tom Carrasco and SEAG Federation Executive Committre chairman Cito Dayrit in adding more events for his sport in the coming SEA Games.

But Aguilar said Carrasco’s initial feedback was the 14 events for wrestling will stay – 10 for men (Greco Roman 55 kg, 60 kg, 63 kg, 77 kg and 87 kg and freestyle 57 kg, 61 kg, 65 kg, 67 kg and 125 kg) and four for women (50 kg, 53 kg, 55 kg, 62 kg).  Aguilar said he has in his possession, written appeals from the wrestling federations of all the SEA countries to increase the events to over 20.

Wrestling wasn’t in the SEA Games calendar in 2015 and 2017 but will make a comeback this year. In 2013, there were 21 gold medals at stake in wrestling at the SEA Games with Vietnam claiming 10, Cambodia four, Myanmar three, Indonesia two, Thailand and Laos one and the Philippines none.

Aguilar said he was surprised that grappling was excluded from the wrestling agenda for this year’s SEA Games. “My hope was wrestling would be given 40 events – 10 for men’s freestyle, 10 for men’s Greco Roman, 10 for women and 10 for grappling,” he said. “From our target of 40, we’re now down to 14. Mr. Carrasco told me if we add more events, other countries would think we’re manipulating to increase our gold medal chances. But what’s wrong with that? In every SEA Games, the host country is given the prerogative to schedule events where the chances are good for a gold. With 14 events, we’ll get our share of golds. With 40 events, I guarantee at least 30 golds.”

Aguilar pointed out that last November, the Philippines collected 31 gold medals at the SEA Wrestling, Grappling and Pankration Championships involving 200 athletes from eight countries in San Pablo City. Of the 31 gold medals, 22 came from Gi and No Gi grappling. Aguilar said Vietnam is a serious contender to dominate wrestling, particularly in the women’s division. “I’ve seen how the Vietnamese train, they’re relentless,” he said. “In San Pablo, Vietnamese athletes doubled in some events and after finishing one event, they went straight to training for the next event. We’re way ahead of the other SEA countries in grappling. At the World Grappling Championships in Kazakhstan last year, our athlete Vince Ortiz took the bronze medal in the 62 kg class.”

Aguilar said he’s not giving up hope to increase the wrestling events. “I think that even a month before the SEA Games, you can still add events for as long as there is participation from at least four countries,” he said. “We’ve sacrificed so much for our country to get this far. All we’re asking for is a chance to fight for our country and win gold medals.”

Since taking over the wrestling NSA three years ago, the WAP hasn’t received support from the PSC except for monthly athletes’ allowances because of unliquidated accounts of about P8 Million from the previous administration. There are 27 wrestlers in the national pool receiving PSC allowances. 

“We’ve been spending our own money to compete abroad,” said Aguilar. “We’ve explained to COA that we had nothing to do with the past administration. Cases will be filed against the previous officers to set them apart from us. It’s been a hard struggle. Overseas exposure is critical for our athletes so we’re doing it on our own. When our team of six left for Kazakhstan to participate at the World Grappling Championships, they were stranded for two days in Hong Kong because of visa problems. They slept in the airport until Hong Kong authorities cleared them to leave for Kazakhstan which grants visas only on arrival. We had to rebook plane tickets twice and that was costly. Once we get full PSC support, it’s sky’s the limit for wrestling.”

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