By Kristel Satumbaga

In a near down-the-wire finish, the head of the cycling association outsprinted the chief of the track and field federation in the race for fiefdom in the Philippine Olympic Committee Sunday.

280719 POC ELECTIONS 03 riodeluvio 640x522 - Bambol assumes POC presidency, beats Juico in special polls, 24-20

An unsmiling Bambol Tolentino is congratulated by his colleagues, including former Philippine Olympic Committee head Ricky Vargas and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ Al Panlilio, after the Tagaytay City representative was elected POC president Sunday during the IOC-mandated special polls at Century Park Hotel. (Rio Leonelle Deluvio/MANILA BULLETIN)

International Cycling Federation of the Philippines’ Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino was voted POC president, Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association’s Philip Ella Juico during a special election at the Century Park Hotel.

Tolentino, 55, garnered 24 votes against Juico’s 20 from 45 voting members present in the proceedings to fill in the post vacated by amateur boxing chief Ricky Vargas, who resigned last June.

There are 46 voting members of the highest Olympic body in the country with Philippine National Shooting Association failing to send a representative and Philippine Football Rugby Union abstaining.

Forty-one votes came from various national sports associations, while three individual votes were cast from International Olympic Committee (IOC) Representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski and Athletes’ Commission representatives Hidilyn Diaz and Henry Dagmil.

Handball’s Steve Hontiveros also won the chairmanship after besting taekwondo’s Robert Aventajado, 26-18, while winning as Board Members are Clint Aranas of archery (24 votes) and Cynthia Carrion of gymnastics (23 votes).

“I’m thankful na natapos na rin itong POC squabble na ito so I think as the saying goes, ‘let’s set aside the differences and move forward,’” said Tolentino after his proclamation.

“Let us all move forward and focus on (our country’s hosting of the) Southeast Asian Games,” he added. Juico, meanwhile, was gracious in defeat. “You win some, you lose some.

There are other opportunities open. Some windows close, other windows open,” said Juico. Tolentino and the new officers will only be serving until November next year – or during the last day of the Olympic cycle.

This is the second time the POC held an election in less than two years after the resignation of POC officials led by Vargas.

It also marks the third time it took place in an Olympic cycle – the first in November 2016 that saw Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. keep his post, and the second in February 2018 when Vargas won.

A committee made up of lawyer Teddy Kalaw, Letran athletic director Fr. Vic Calvo and Party-List Rep. Conrado Estrella oversaw the elections along with IOC representative Dr. Batra Dhruv Narindra, who served as an observer.

The election was initially scheduled July 5 but was pushed to a latter date to comply with IOC’s request for clarifications through a general assembly.

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