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Bambol Tolentino to prioritize uniting sports, national athletes if re-elected

If re-elected president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), cycling chief Abraham Tolentino will work on two things to kick-start a fresh, four-year mandate.

“If I win, my first move is to reach out to the NSAs (national sports associations) and unite sports and forget the politics,” said Tolentino in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum webcast.

Tolentino, the congressman from Tagaytay City, is facing challenger Clint Aranas of archery for the top POC post on Friday at the East Ocean Restaurant in Pasay City.

Unity within the POC, according to Tolentino, is key to the future of Philippine sports and its goal of winning the elusive gold in the Tokyo Olympics in July 2021.

“Let’s move and focus, especially since the Tokyo Olympics is next year and we’re aiming for the first gold in the country,” Tolentino told the forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, Go For Gold PH, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

Tolentino was elected POC chief last year following the resignation of boxing chief Ricky Vargas. After less than two years in office, he is seeking a full term.

He told the weekly forum powered by Smart, with Upstream Media as official webcast partner, that he will sincerely work for unity within the POC.

“This is really coming from my heart. If we can’t unite now, the momentum of our SEAG success (in 2019) will be wasted. The momentum is still there and there is Tokyo. We should focus on that,” said Tolentino.

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“It does not look right if we’re not united and we can’t agree on simple policies,” he said.

There are 54 voting members in the POC, 51 of them NSAs. Tolentino said while a handful may opt to send their sealed ballots through mail, he expects the rest to physically join the exercise.

Strict health protocols will be in place during the elections, including antigen tests for the COVID-19 virus for those who will attend. The POC has prepared 150 test kits.

Running under Tolentino’s ticket are Tom Carrasco of triathlon (chairman); Al Panlilio of basketball (first vice president); Mayor Richard Gomez of fencing and modern pentathlon (second vice president); Cynthia Carrion of gymnastics (treasurer); Chito Loyzaga of baseball (auditor); and Pearl Managuelod of muay; Dave Carter of judo; Rep. Butch Pichay of chess; and Dr. Raul Canlas of surfing as board members.

“Everything is set. On Friday, we will be choosing the leaders who will rightfully serve the POC.”

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