PNG stalwarts up for inclusion in nat'l pool

PNG stalwarts up for inclusion in nat'l pool
By: Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Athletes who excelled in the recent Philippine National Games but are not yet members of the national pool may soon find themselves ranked among the country’s finest athletes.

In fact, the Philippine Sports Commission, which organized the recent PNG, is preparing a list of the young and promising athletes who deserve inclusion in the national pool.

Once they make it, these athletes will start receiving support and monthly allowances from the PSC plus the chance to represent the country in international competitions.

If they eventually make it to the elite pool, they can receive as much as P40,000 a month.

But PSC chairman Richie Garcia said the government sports agency can only go as far as making recommendations because it’s still the call of the different national sports associations (NSAs).

“We are listing down all those who performed well,” said Garcia of some athletes that made a lot of heads turn during the PNG held May 24 to June 2 in Metro Manila.

Garcia mentioned a couple of 13-year-old athletes like Zamboanga City’s Cheska Centeno of billiards and Dumaguete’s Marie Crizabel Merto of archery.

Centeno made noise by beating 2010 World 10-Ball champion and former SEA Games gold medalist Rubilen Amit twice in the eliminations and losers’ bracket of 9-Ball.

Centeno, however, lost a very close match to Irish Ranola, the reigning two-time SEA Games champion, in the battle for the gold.

Merto, whose uncle, Roel Merto, represented the country in the archery competitions of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, won the bronze in the PNG.

But her performance caught the eyes of the national pool members, eventually finishing behind Rachel Ann Cabral, a veteran of the 2012 London Olympics, and Andrea Orbeta.

Garcia also mentioned the beach volleyball teams from Cebu which won the gold and silver medals in both the men’s and women’s divisions.

Garcia stressed, however, that these athletes may opt to become members of the national pool without leaving their respective provinces.

“If they can excel while they are based in the provinces then it means they’re doing the right thing in training. Why do we have to bring them to Manila?” he said.

“I heard the parents of the young athletes would rather see their children stay with them. I agree because there are perhaps more distractions here.”