The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) yesterday welcomed the appointment of Sarangtani Rep. Manny Pacquiao as the chairman of a special committee created by the House of Representatives to oversee the country’s preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.
“He will serve as an inspiration to all the athletes,” said POC president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco yesterday from his rest house in Tarlac.
Pacquiao got the appointment from Congress on Wednesday and is expected to personally get involved in getting the chosen athletes primed and ready for the 31st staging of the quadrennial sports spectacle.
Cojuangco believes Pacquiao, one of the most recongizable faces in the world, was the flag-carrier of the Philippines during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“He can rally just about everyone in holding fund-raising events,” said Cojuangco.
There will be 306 events in 42 sports during the Aug. 5 to 21 sportsfest with more than 10,000 athletes from over 200 countries taking part.
So far, the Philippines doesn’t have an Olympic qualifier yet although 12 athletes are training under the International Olympic Committee’s Solidarity Program and they are John Paul Lizardo, Christian dela Cruz, Kristopher Robert Uy and Kirstie Elaine Alora of taekwondo, Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno of boxing, Priness Superal and Mia Legaspi of golf, Hermie Macaranas of canoeing, Jasmine Alkhaldi of swimming and Hagen Topacio and Amparo Acuna of shooting.
Since last year, these selected athletes have been receiving $500 a month and part of their training and their Olympic qualifying participation will be shouldered by the IOC.
The Philippines hasn’t won an Olympic gold medal, managing only two silvers and seven bronzes since 1924. (Nick Giongco)