Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) President Monico Puentevella said that the federation has been pushing for the sport’s inclusion in school-based leagues — even before Hidilyn Diaz’s golden success in the Tokyo Olympics.
The long-time sportsman said that he and Diaz reached out to the UAAP for discussions regarding their aim a few years ago, after the Zamboanga native won the country a silver medal in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“Mga three, four years ago, nung mayroon pang UAAP, kami ni Hidilyn talaga ang nakiusap sa UAAP through Rodrigo Roque… Secretary yata siya noon ng UAAP,” he told the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum, Tuesday.
At Tiebreaker Times’ check, half of the league’s member schools have weightlifting teams. This includes Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, and University of the East.
However, the UAAP does not have weightlifting in its list of events. So, what happened to its meeting with the SWP?
“Walang nangyari,” lamented Puentevella, who returned as SWP chief back in October of 2016. “Because sabi raw kailangan daw sa pito ata o something, kailangan daw lima o apat ang sumali [para maging demo event]. Na-frustrate ako.”
Aside from the UAAP, Puentevella said that he has also met with Department of Education officials in an aim to include the sport in Palarong Pambansa.
“Ito namang sa Palarong Pambansa, personally tinawag ako. Nag-explain ako,” he recalled. “Eh, pandemya. Wala nang Palaro for two years.”
The former PSC commissioner even used Diaz as a prime example that future champions could be discovered in such tournaments. He pointed out that the 30-year-old is a product of the Batang Pinoy National Games.
“Ang Palaro naman, I hope hindi lang lip sync. Sana magkatotoo din sa Palarong Pambansa kasi marami akong bata ngayon eh, mga 12 years old … Gaya rin ni Hidilyn noon, product siya ng Batang Pinoy,” he said.
Just last week, Diaz guested in the PSA Forum and urged for the inclusion of weightlifting and boxing in the Palaro and in the collegiate ranks, given the country’s medal success in the 32nd Olympiad.
Puentevella vowed that he will continue the fight to have weightlifting at the grassroots level in an aim to find the next great sports heroes.
“Kung gusto natin lumaki lalo ang weightlifting, na pangarap namin ni Hidilyn … Susulat ako ulit sa UAAP board kung pwedeng isama,” he said. “Kailangan mag-encourage na rin ang UAAP board sa kanilang mga eskwelahan.
“If we want to help sana makinig si [DepEd] Sec. [Leonor] Briones, sana makaabot sa kanya itong apela ko at kay UAAP.”