‘Great starting point’ for cycling as factions unifyBy June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
DIVIDED for a long time, cycling finally became one.
Tagaytay City Mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino was installed president of PhilCycling while Philip Ella Juico agreed to slide down to vice president during the association’s unified elections yesterday, ending a lengthy leadership tug-of-war that had stalled the country’s riders in the international arena.
“This is a great starting point for PhilCycling,” said Tolentino during the elections held at One Esplanade in Pasay City and attended by 96 heads out of the 240 legitimate member-clubs nationwide.
“Our cyclists can now compete freely in big races overseas without distractions.”
Also elected by the 15-man board of trustees were cycling “godfather” Bert Lina (chair), Oscar Rodriguez Jr. (treasurer), and Jesus Aranas (auditor). The body appointed Avelino Sumague as secretary general and Jojo Villa as executive director.
“Let’s forgive and forget,” added Tolentino. “We have to move on as one.”
Elected as directors for the next four years were cycling greats Paquito Rivas and Modesto Bonzo, Juancho Ramores, Carlos Gredonia, Lorenzo Lomibao Jr., Froilan Dayco, Ric Rodriguez, Pablito Sual, Cornelio Baylon and former Commission on Elections commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal.
Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. attended the exercise as observer along with POC spokesperson Joey Romasanta and Asian Cycling Confederation secretary general Choi Boo-woong, who stood as emissary of the Union Cycliste Internationale.
“We have to thank the leaders of this association for leading the unification,” said Cojuangco, who granted recognition to the new PhilCycling. “This is one sport where we can really excel. Under this new leadership, I know we can go a long way.”
Cojuangco and Tolentino cited London Olympics-bound BMX rider Danny Caluag as proof that Filipinos can shine in the sport.
The 24-year-old Filipino-American, a four-time No. 1 BMX competitor in the United States, is training in the Netherlands. The lone Asian entry in the BMX event is scheduled to compete on Aug. 8.
The dispute began in early 2009 when another cycling group challenged the leadership of Tolentino, the legitimate head of PhilCycling.
At one point, the POC recognized another cycling faction while Tolentino and his group maintained a smooth relationship with the UCI, the sport’s international governing body, and the ACC.
The conflict intensified after 11 Filipino cyclists were barred from vying in the 2009 Laos Southeast Asian Games for failing to secure UCI licenses.
Last year, Juico, a former chair of the Philippine Sports Commission, became the fourth president of the other faction.
Each side named seven board members to the new body while Cojuangco picked Lina, a former PhilCycling president, as the 15th member of the board of trustees. Lina pledged P500,000 as seed money for PhilCycling.
UCI president Pat McQuaid expressed optimism over the direction of Philippine cycling.
“Hopefully, PhilCycling will now move forward in a professional way and we will see cyclists getting international results,” said McQuaid.