Wrestling body elects new officials

By June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines - A long-running strife has ended after a young set of officers took over the Wrestling Association of the Philippines (WAP)

Former national team coach Juan Albert Balde was named president while three-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Marcus Valda was chosen vice president during WAP elections Sunday (April 19) recognized by the Philippine Olympic Committee.

With the blessings of the Olympic body, Balde replaced Vince Piccio as wrestling chief, officially ending a seven-month rift that started when WAP chair Manuel Espejo and Piccio refused to acknowledge the results of the association?s election of officers last Sept. 28.

POC deputy secretary-general Buddy Andrada acted as observer during the elections held at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

Karlo Sevilla was appointed secretary-general while Alvin Aguilar, a former national wrestler, was designated treasurer after the elections, wherein 53 of the 74 delegates of the WAP national council attended and voted unanimously for Balde?s group.

Sevilla said Espejo and Piccio mismanaged the affairs of the WAP after the country failed to send a single wrestler to any of the Olympic qualifying tournaments of the International Wrestling Federation (Fila) last year.

``As a result, potential Filipino Olympians in the sport were disqualified by default in the 2008 Beijing Olympics,?? said Sevilla.

Balde, meanwhile, vowed to promote wrestling more and work for the immediate release of funds to overdue allowances to coaches and trainers.

The Equestrian Association of the Philippines also plans to push through with its election of officers this week despite the absence of a Philippine Olympic Committee observer.

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