Elected to a full term, Tolentino faces big challenges–but he’ll have deep war chest
Abraham Tolentino finally gained a full four-year term on Friday as Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president. And the challenges he faces is huge, the least of which is how to unite a highly politicized organization.
“But with the help of this team, we can focus on [those challenges],” Tolentino said.
“In the end, this is for the Filipino athletes.”
The Cavite representative, who is also the country’s cycling chief, has bigger things to oversee in the sporting arena, with the country’s campaign in the Tokyo Olympics, Southeast Asian Games and Asian Youth Games expected to take up a lot of his attention.
Luckily, Tolentino is armed.
Tolentino, who beat archery’s Clint Aranas for the POC presidency, 30-22, successfully lobbied for Congress to approve a P900-million budget for the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) as part of a financial package meant to resuscitate a country ravaged by an ongoing pandemic.
“Through the Bayanihan 2, [our participation in major meets] will all be covered,” Tolentino said, referring to the law that the PSC budget hitched on.Athletes’ Commission representative chair Nikko Huelgas welcomed the fresh set of officials and vowed full cooperation from his group.
“We [in Athletes’ Commission] agreed that whoever is elected we will support, respect and cooperate as we work toward a better Philippine sports,” the 2015 and the 2017 SEA Games triathlon champ said.
Huelgas sits at the POC executive board but Olympians Hidilyn Diaz and Jessie King Lacuna were the ones who cast votes on behalf of the commission.
Tolentino first assumed the POC presidency when boxing’s Ricky Vargas resigned last June before his term ended. Filling in for Vargas’ remaining tenure, Tolentino helped oversee the 2019 SEA Games hosted by the Philippines, which romped its way to the overall title.
Vargas extended a congratulatory message to Tolentino after the elections.
“I have no doubt this will be the refresh that Philippine sports badly needs,” Vargas said in a statement. “Reform is no longer just a pipe dream; it is reality within reach.”
Handball’s Steve Hontiveros also retained his post as chair, beating out triathlon’s Tom Carrasco, 28-25.
“With the elections all behind us, we will now work for what’s good for Philippine sports,” said Hontiveros, who is now the most senior in a young crop of officials.
First-time winners abound in the elections held at East Ocean Palace in Parañaque City, including basketball’s Al Panlilio (first vice president), modern pentathlon’s Richard Gomez (second vice president), baseball’s Chito Loyzaga (auditor), muay thai’s Pearl Managuelod (director) and surfing’s Jose Raul Canlas (director).
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