PHILIPPINE weightlifting, the only sport to have ended the 20-year medal drought for the country in the Olympics, has aired a plea for help from major sports stakeholders.
Samahang Weighlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella on Tuesday called on the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Department of Education, NCAA and UAAP to help the sport.
“We should be given priority because we have proven ourselves in the Olympics,” Puentevella saud during the PSA Forum at Tapa King in Cubao. “There’s no reason why we won’t be given priority.”
Puentevella said P15 million worth of new equipment — of it Meralco pledging to give our P5 million worth of barbels — is on its way but he chose to hold it until the PSC finishes the new gymnasium it promised to build inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
“The gym we are using is the same gym we have used for the last 30 years. Parang hindi bagay sa new equipment. Luma ang gym namin,” added Puentevella. He said the new weightlifting gym was to be built behind the tennis courts and beside the gymnastics hall.
He also asked the PSC to raise the number of national coaches from the present five to 10, “because we need to reach out to more cities in the country. Right now we only have hubs in Manila, Zamboanga, Bohol, Cebu and Baguio City."
The former Bacolod congressman said national weightlifters are training separately in their respective gyms in the provinces, underscoring the need for a national training center for the sport.
“If we can't make our national centers attractive, how can we make the sport attractive to potential athletes?” he added.
Puentevella is asking the POC to allow them to send seven athletes to the Asian Games in Indonesia this August. The POC gave them just two slots in the Asiad-bound delegation.
“We have never come home empty-handed from international events the past years,” said Puentevella. “I appeal to POC to not give us a quota on the number of athletes. Let those who qualify compete.”
Aside from 2016 Olympic silver winner Hidilyn Diaz (53 kilogram), Puentevella is endorsing promising lifters like Ellen Rose Perez (48kg), Maria Desa Delos Santos (58kg), Elreen Ann Ando (63 kg) and Kristel Macrohon (65kg).
Olympian Nestor Colonia and Jeffrey Garcia were also nominated by the SWP for the men’s team.
“After all, the Asian Games is the qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics,” he added. “Weightlifting is our biggest chance to medal in the Olympics. It is our best chance for gold for that matter.”
Puentevella also cried foul over the selection of Subic as venue of weightlifting competitions in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games which the country is hosting.
“Who will watch us in Subic? How do we market weightlifting if you don’t expose us to as many people as possible?” he said. “We need to be in Glorietta or in Trinoma where a big crowd can watch and be interested in the sport.”
He also pleaded with the DepEd to include high school weightlifting in the Palarong Pambansa as a regular sport and called on the UAAP and the NCAA to include the sport in their roster.
“We need all the help we can get. Weightlifting is the new road to the Olympics paved by Hidilyn. It should be a collective effort,” he added.