PH kiteboarding hopes to get nat’l attention by winning YOG medal
BORACAY—With the Youth Olympic Games coming up, there’s an opportunity for kiteboarding, a fast-growing water sport, to make a splash in the Philippines—by winning a medal.
Five years into the annual ICTSI Philippine Kiteboarding Tour, the sport has yet to break the mainstream awareness but PKA president Jay Ortiz thinks this may be the best time to get national attention.
“The strategy for us to take it to mainstream is get an Olympic medal for this. When we chartered the PKA five years ago, the first objectives were to promote the sport over the 7,000 islands and to train our athletes for the international events,” Ortiz told INQUIRER.net during the first day of the three-day competitions here.
“We all agree that the [YOG] is the opportunity to create awareness. In Europe, US and South American, kiteboarding is booming exponentially and we hope to bring that growth here.”
Kiteboarding is a thrilling adventure sport that puts riders on a board and uses a large kite controlled by a bar to steer them on the water usually following a race course.
With the sport largely depending on wind conditions, hosting an event is not without its challenges. During the Boracay leg from February 10 to 12, competitions were cancelled for the first two days because of the lack of strong wind.
The PKA tour features three events—the twin tip race, hangtime and freestyle. The Youth members like rising star Christian Tio competed in the elite division to prepare them for the Olympic qualifying event in Thailand in March, where a lone spot for Asia is at stake.
Ortiz said the Philippines has five boys and one girl as prospects to compete in the Qualifying tournament.
Kiteboarding is a sport that Ortiz believes Filipinos can dominate because it puts premium on strategy and training rather than height, which in reality, majority of the locals lack.
“I think we are in equal footing with out international competition because height and built are not a major factor,” Ortiz, who is also a consistent top performer in his division, said. “We believe we can dominate the sports in Asia.”
There was an increase in participants—both foreign and local—for the Kiteboarding Tour this year compared to last season, and PKA is hoping to bring it to more provinces in the Philippines in hopes of discovering more talents.
The PKA made stops in Lakawon (Bacolod), Bantayan Island in Cebu, Boracay—which is one of the top kiteboarding locations in the country—before holding its final event in Cagbalete, Quezon, just four hours outside of Manila by land.
Aside from discovering talents, the Kiteboarding tour has also helped in sports tourism as they visit lesser-known spots like Cuyo Island, a remote area in Palawan, for their tournaments.
“While it’s not our main objective, sports tourism opportunity because we’ve seen how it helped with the growth of the spots that we brought the tour,” Ortiz. said.
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