Revival of ‘Batang Pinoy’ urged

BY NIDA BUENAFE – With the Team Philippines coming home from Beijing empty-handed, sports officials in the country are pushing for a revitalized grassroots program, like the Batang Pinoy competition, that will prepare Filipino athletes for future Olympic Games.

Bacolod congressman and Philippine Olympic Committee vice president and RP Olympic team chief of the mission Monico Puentevella agreed with the observation of PSC chairman William Ramirez that “radical changes” are needed to improve the country’s existing sports programs.

Like Ramirez, Puentevella said he is also pushing for the revival of the Batang Pinoy championships and the strengthening of the annual Palarong Pambansa.

“We should focus more on Olympic sports right in these two grassroots programs in preparation for the future Olympic Games,” Puentevella said during a teleconference with local sports media in Manila Friday, after taekwondo jin Mary Antoinette Rivero lost to her Croatian opponent.

He also appealed to the public to spare the athletes from criticisms, stressing that the members of the Team Philippines did their best “right from the start of their training just to qualify for the Olympics.”

“You may blame us, the sports officials, but let’s spare our athletes. I’m ready to take the blame and it’s a wake up call for us as sports officials to come out with concrete solutions when we return to Manila,” Puentevella was quoted by PNA reporters as saying.

The loss of all Philippines athletes in Beijing meant the country will have to wait four more years again to get a chance at breaking the drought that began in the 1924 Games, the year Philippines made its Olympic debut.

The last time the country won a medal was in the 1996 Atlanta Games when Negrense boxer Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco won a silver.*NAB

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