Stability in POC

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2020 - 12:00am

Take it from triathlete Nikko Huelgas who just won a second four-year term as member of the Athletes Commission (AC) attached to the POC. In his first term that started in 2015, Huelgas was named to represent the AC in the POC Executive Board and the POC General Assembly. Five members are voted to the AC and from the five, one is chosen chairman to sit in the POC Executive Board and one male and one female are selected to join the POC General Assembly with voting powers.

Each AC member must be at least 18, never have been sanctioned for doping, never have been convicted of any crime or suspended for a behavioral cause and at least have participated in any two of these events – Summer or Winter Olympics, Youth Olympics, world or continental or regional games – from the past 10 years.

Under the POC’s term of reference, the AC serves as a consultative and advisory body for elite Filipino national athletes to assist the POC achieve its mission by providing a critical link between POC leaders and athletes. The AC’s goals are “to help the athletes achieve their full potential to sustain their success in various competitions, to maintain a healthy and efficient relationship between athletes and the POC through direct communication and to carry out programs of the IOC’s AC in order to assist the national athletes in life areas within and after retirement from competitive sports.”

The five AC members for this term are top vote-getter Francesca Altamonte of softball, Huelgas, Jessie Lacuna of swimming, Jake Letts of rugby and Samuel Morrison of taekwondo.

From an insider’s viewpoint, Huelgas said there is now clear stability in the POC under Rep. Bambol Tolentino as president. “The transition from Mr. (Ricky) Vargas to Cong. Bambol was very easy because they’re friends and the staff remained virtually the same,” he said. “I don’t think there will be political instability any time soon and I hope this stays. Since I was elected as member of the AC, they appointed me as the chairman, thus, it gave me a seat in the POC Executive Board.”

The successful staging of the Southeast Asian Games here last month was a result of several factors. Huelgas cited the factors as PSC supporting overseas exposure, foreign coaching, selection of sports by the host country and the athletes’ dedication to excel.

In his first term with the AC, Huelgas said he took the lead in making it active again. “I’ve represented the Philippines many times in IOC events from the Asian Athletes Forum, World Athletes Forum, Youth Sports Summit and others,” he said. “It was an honor and I gained so much experience and network with these events that led me to making the AC better. It’s all about relationships. From there, the work gets easier because any international official will be willing to help you.”

As for his accomplishments, Huelgas said the AC held several events to benefit the athletes. “We did financial management, Athletes Forum, career transition and anti-doping,” he said. “Because of that recent doping seminar, we had zero doping cases since the Asian Games.”

Regarding the dominance of Filipino triathletes in the SEA Games, Huelgas said the secret lies in a well-managed federation, in this case the Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP). “We’ve got a very hands-on president Tom Carrasco and secretary-general Ramon Marchan, a hard-working staff and well-trained coaches,” he said. “From there, international exposure to races and camps with world-class coaches and athletes plays one of the biggest roles. Our athletes become who they aspire to be, racing with world champions. In short, funding from both PSC and the private sector makes those plans happen smoothly and on time.”

Huelgas said there are eight elite men, four elite women and about 20 juniors in the national triathlon pool. “The pool is well-supported by PSC through TRAP’s watchful eye,” he said.

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