Very little expense was spared for the country’s Tokyo Olympics participation. The result? A historic first gold medal courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president and Cavite Rep. Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino wants to make sure the funding won’t dry up, particularly with four major international multisport events looming, all of which represent a vital pit stop for the country’s participation in the Paris Olympiad.
“House Speaker Lord Velasco and Senate President Vicente Sotto III assured the inclusion of the budget for these four major international competitions,’’ Tolentino said on Wednesday.
“This after the Department of Budget and Management didn’t allot a single centavo to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) budget for these major events,’’ he added.
The PSC certainly needs the funds, what with Tokyo Olympian and Paris hope EJ Obiena collecting pole vault records faster than the government can award them.
On Sunday, he reset the Philippine record—as well as the Asian mark—to 5.93 meters during the Innsbruck, Austria meet, just a week or so after being granted a P250,000 bonus for his 5.91m new Philippine standard last Sept. 4, during the Wanda Diamond League in Paris.
In breaking the 5.92 Asian mark of Igor Potapovich of Kazakhstan, Obiena also surpassed his own 5.91m Philippine standard which carries another incentive, according to PSC mandate. Not only that, Asian records are worth as much as P1.5 million for Filipino athletes based on the PSC standards.
Obiena’s mother, Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) official Jeanette Obiena, said EJ deserves additional incentive every time he resets a new mark for the country.
“These are serious heights, every centimeter matters,” Jeanette told the Inquirer. “He deserves it for all the hard work he’s done.”
And for the goal he is chasing: a medal in the 2024 Olympics.
PSC Chair Butch Ramirez said the agency is waiting for recommendation from its department dealing with national sports association (NSA) as well as the Patafa before they approve of another wave incentive for the Olympian pole vaulter.
“We are seeking endorsement of documents and merits of credence of that meet from the Patafa, and to be verified by the NSA affairs,” said Ramirez. “If it’s credible, we will approve it.”
The PSC has been bankrolling Obiena’s training and competition abroad, including the recent Tokyo Olympics, and Ramirez said if it were up to him, he would immediately grant the incentive as recognition of Obiena’s feat.
As more and more athletes improve their performances in a bid to cash in on a potential windfall in the Paris Olympics, Tolentino wants to provide them with more major platforms to gauge their gains. Thus, he is actively campaigning for funding for next year’s Winter Olympics, Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (Aimag), Asian Games and the Asian Youth Games (AYG) in the 2022 General Appropriations Act.
The 2022 Winter Olympics is set on Feb. 4 to 20 in Beijing, the Aimag on March 10 to 20 in Thailand, the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, on Sept. 10 to 25 and the AYG in Shantou, China, on Dec. 20 to 28.
According to Tolentino, the POC should immediately find out the size of the delegation for the four tournaments to determine the budget to be allocated by the lawmakers.
“The budget hearings are coming up, so we have to be steadfast,’’ said Tolentino. “Philippine sports must be unwavering as we have to sustain the momentum of our successful campaign in the Tokyo Olympics.’’
The four events will be among the major competitions in the path to Paris that athletes can use to sharpen their Olympic medal bids.
Tolentino has said that the goal in Paris is to match or better the performance of Team Philippines in Tokyo.
Aside from breaking through via Diaz’s gold, the Philippines also went home with two silvers courtesy of boxers Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam and a bronze from boxer Eumir Marcial.
“These are our sports heroes plus the 15 other athletes who fought mightily in Tokyo. Their success and how they campaigned changed the landscape of Philippine sports,’’ said Tolentino.
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