It took one Olympic cycle — and several futile efforts from an opposing faction to wrestle for the organization’s leadership — for PhilCycling to finally secure recognition from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) as the national federation for the sport.
In what was dubbed the “unified cycling elections,” Tagaytay City mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino earned a fresh four-year term as president of the federation in formal ceremonies witnessed by POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr. and spokesman Joey Romasanta and observed by Asian Cycling Confederation secretary general Choi Boo Wong, who flew all the way from Seoul, at 1 Esplanade in Pasay City.
What came as a surprise to the cycling community was the election of Tolentino’s predecessor Bert Lina as chairman.
Lina immediately convened the new board that also saw former Philippine Sports Commission chairman Philip Ella Juico elected as vice president. The Air 21 chairman then pledged P.5 million as seed money for the “new” PhilCycling.
And just a few hours after the elections, Pat McQuaid, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for the sport, expressed optimism over the direction Philippine cycling would take from hereon in.
“Hopefully now PhilCycling will move forward in a professional way and we will see cyclists getting international results,” said McQuaid, who looked forward to returning to the Philippines after 12 years.
“The ground is now there for a visit by UCI president within the next year,” said McQuaid who, as road commission chairman of the UCI, was responsible for the international Marlboro Tour editions from 1996 to 1998.
Also elected to the board with Tolentino, Lina and Juico were holdovers Oscar “Boying” Rodriguez, Modesto Bonzo, Paquito Rivas, Carlos Gredonia, Juancho Ramores, Lorenzo “Jun” Lomibao Jr. and Pablito “Bong” Sual. The new faces on the 15-man board were former Commission on Elections commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, Ric Rodriquez, Atty. Jesus Aranas, Atty. Froilan Dayco and Cornelio Baylon. Named secretary general was Atty. Avelino Sumague.
“This is a great starting point for Philippine cycling,” said Tolentino. “Forgive and forget na. Let us now move on at ibabangon uli namin ang cycling.”
Cojuangco hailed the elections which kept Philippine cycling in the dark for four years.
“We have to thank the leaders of the association for leading the unification. Sayang ang sport na ito because this is one sport where we can excel. Under the new leadership, I know we can go a long way,” said Cojuangco.
Perhaps because of the heavy downpour yesterday morning, only 96 heads of the combined 240 member clubs of the federation attended the elections.
Tolentino was elected president in a UCI-supervised elections in January 2009, but this was questioned by a breakaway group in the cycling community. The breakaway group, however, elected its own president four times, with Juico being the last one.