POC chief: Rally behind athletes

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star
POC chief: Rally behind athletes
Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino awards Caloy Yulo the gold medal for his men’s vault win Sunday night.
STAR / File

HANOI – Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino asked the nation to rally behind Team Philippines, which, despite stumbling in some of its traditional gold mines and getting barred from the bodybuilding events, stood fighting at third halfway through the 31st Southeast Asian Games.

“We are hoping and praying to maintain our momentum, although we lost in some sports like tennis, golf and basketball 3X3, among others, which we had a good chance of winning gold,” Tolentino, also the PhilCycling head, said.

“We need to recover (lost golds) and capture more golds from the other sports. We still have boxing, gymnastics, karate, athletics, basketball, weightlifting, taekwondo, wrestling and other combat sports where we could win medals.”

Tolentino, whose energy continued to surge as he tried his best to make the rounds in venues situated distant from each other to perk the Pinoy bets up, made the call amid the brouhaha concerning the bodybuilding team.

The Filipino bodybuilders were sent back home for failing to comply with the SEA Games’ doping requirements – a situation that Tolentino lamented could have been prevented.

“I did everything up to the last minute,” said Tolentino. “But they invoke some rules which could have been remedied if some officials are really ‘working officials.’”

“Anyways, it’s a lesson learned,” he added.

Composed of eight men and a woman, the squad was not allowed to compete because it did not submit the necessary doping tests that should have been done three weeks before the start of their event.

Based on the Games’ handbook, all participating athletes must submit doping and clearance certificates for them to be able to join.

Apparently, the Filipino bodybuilders have not.

In a story from Agence France-Presse, the team was sad to learn that they could not participate and shoot for medals in the biennial meet.

They vowed to make a big return though in next year’s SEA Games edition in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Tolentino told the Filipino athletes who have yet to compete to never lose hope, saying “the whole nation is with them in this fight.”

“Never give up and continue to fight for our country,” he said.



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