Alapag vouches for embattled Vargas as #LetRickyRun campaign launched

Former Gilas skipper Jimmy Alapag underscored the pressing need for a change in the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) leadership currently headed by Peping Cojuangco. 

Alapag has been the most vocal athlete throwing his support on the candidacy of Alliances of Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) president Ricky Vargas to challenge Cojuangco in the coming POC elections.

Vargas, however, was disqualified from running as the election committee, headed by International Olympic Committee Representative Frank Elizalde, said that Vargas failed to be “an active member of the POC general assembly for two consecutive years at the time of their election” as stipulated in Article 7 Section 11 of the POC charter.

Alapag and the other staunch supporters of Vargas started an online campaign with the hashtag #LetRickyRun in response to Vargas’ disqualification.

In a lengthy post, Vargas quoted Alapag saying “We need to see advancements in our country’s sports programs right now… it’s been locked in the status quo for too long… we all know we can do so much better… if you want our Olympians to compete for a better medal count, they need more support, financial backing and guidance… it starts with leadership… let’s welcome change…”

Under Cojuangco’s watch since he first ran in 2005, the Philippines could only muster one silver medal courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz in the 2016 Rio Games after a back-to-back medal shutout in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Cojuangco’s leadership started with a bang as the country won the most medals in the Southeast Asian Games history during the 2005 SEA Games held in the country with 113-94-84 gold-silver-bronze medal tally to bag the overall crown for the first time. But the supremacy of the Philippine Sports in the region did not last long as the country failed to even crack the top four in the next five SEA Games editions.

The declining state of Philippine Sports is also very evident in the Asian Games.

The country finished at 18th spot in the 2006 Doha Games with four golds, then 19th in 2010 edition at Guangzhou, China with three golds before falling down further to 22nd place, limping off with only one gold courtesy of BMX Fil-Am rider Daniel Caluag in the last Asiad in 2014 at Incheon, South Korea.

The online campaign #LetRickyRun has started to catch on with more athletes, fans and other sports stakeholders coming forward to throw their support on the embattled ABAP president. – By Alder Almo