Miguel Molina offers to assist in Tokyo
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - August 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Two-time Olympic swimmer Miguel Molina is offering his services to the POC to act as liaison, interpreter or whatever role is suited in his line of expertise during the Tokyo Olympics next year. Molina, 35, is fluent in Nihongo and lives in Tokyo with wife Marie Kobayashi, a Japanese who was born and raised in the US.

Molina’s father Tom, a UP political science and Master’s in economics graduate, is in Manila for a short visit and expressed his son’s interest to assist the POC in any capacity. Molina works in the sales department, specializing in financial institutions, of IBM Japan and plans to take a leave if ever he’s called to duty by the POC.

“Miguel’s the perfect liaison,” said Tom. “He speaks and writes Nihongo, knows his way around Tokyo and represented the country twice in the Olympics. He was three when our family moved to Tokyo and our daughter Teresa was six months old as my wife Mitos and I accepted jobs at St. Mary’s International School. I taught economics, was athletic director and coached the varsity baseball team. My wife teaches English as a secondary language. I recently retired from St. Mary’s after 32 years at 65 while Mitos has four more years to go before retirement. I’ve been invited to continue as St. Mary’s baseball coach and I’m thinking about it. Our daughter teaches at the University of Hawaii so only my wife, Miguel and his wife are in Tokyo at the moment.”

Tom was five when his parents moved to Tokyo. His father worked with the Philippine Reparations Commission. “I went to school at St. Mary’s then moved back to Manila where I spent a year at Ateneo before transferring to UP,” he said. “Miguel followed the same route. He was three when we moved to Tokyo. Miguel also finished in St. Mary’s K-to-12 program then attended the University of California at Berkeley where he was on the varsity swimming team for four years. He was a two-time All-American and captain of the Berkeley team in his senior season. I watched Miguel swim for Berkeley in two NCAA competitions, the first at the University of Texas in Austin and the second at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.”

Tom said his son’s most memorable performance was at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games in Bangkok where he was named the Most Outstanding Athlete with four gold medals and a silver. From 2001 to 2009, Molina garnered 11 gold, seven silver and seven bronze medals at the SEA Games. He also competed in two Asian Games but failed to bring home a medal. Molina was fourth at the 2006 Asiad in Doha and fifth at the 2010 edition in Guangzhou, both in his favorite 400-meter individual medley. He made his mark as an Olympian at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games.

Molina retired from competitive swimming after the 2010 Asian Games and now participates in corporate triathlon relay events. His wife is employed as a counselor at St. Mary’s.

“Right now, I’m looking for opportunities in the Philippines where I can use my background as a teacher and coach,” said Tom. “I’ve heard about sports academies or schools coming up and I’d be very interested to be involved.” Before moving to Japan in 1987, Tom was employed at SGV for six years.

“Interest is building up for the Tokyo Olympics,” said Tom. “Organizers mobilized volunteers in a dry-run to mark one year before the opening of the Olympics last July 24. They’re now holding lotteries for residents to buy tickets for different events. Through the lottery, we were able to buy tickets for the preliminaries in beach volleyball and the tennis quarterfinals. The highest-priced ticket for the basketball men’s final is going for the equivalent of P53,000 each.”

Tom said the Japanese basketball team has become an Asian power with NBA first round draft pick Rui Hachimura and naturalized player Nick Fazekas. As host, Japan has an automatic slot in the 12-team Olympic basketball tournament. “Fazekas was once a guest speaker at St. Mary’s and I had the chance to meet him,” said Tom. “I recall Fazekas mentioning that he played in the PBA as an import some years back.” Last Monday, Japan blasted New Zealand, 99-89, in a pre-World Cup friendly at the Chiba Port Arena with Hachimura and Fazekas combining for 56 points. With Argentine head coach Julio Lamas at the helm, Japan has four more warm-up games to play – New Zealand in a rematch, Argentina, Germany and Tunisia.

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