Catantan, Ando part of new group of athletes under IOC program

Samantha Catantan, EJ Obiena and Elreen Ann Ando are part of the Olympics Solidarity Scholarship Grant approved by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC). (MB File Photos)

Tokyo Olympics veterans EJ Obiena and Elreen Ann Ando, and Filipino fencing sensation Samantha Catantan head the new list of Filipino athletes selected by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) for the Olympics Solidarity Scholarship Grant program of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

POC president Bambol Tolentino said that he personally picked Obiena, Ando, Catantan and five other athletes who have great chances to earn tickets in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Also part of the program approved during the POC General Assembly last Wednesday are Rogen Ladon and Aira Villegas of boxing, wrestling’s Allen Mitch Arcilla, Jericho Francisco of skateboarding and Patrick Coo of BMX.

“Ako mismo ang pumili sa walong athletes, and sa tingin ko malaki ang kanilang chance to qualify in the Paris Olympics,” said Tolentino when contacted Thursday, Sept. 9 by Manila Bulletin.

“Itong nasa list tingin natin malaki ang mga kakayahan nila para mag-qualify. Kailangan lang nila ng tulong. Ito yung mga athletes na talagang kailangan ng tulong – kaya nga scholarship ang tawag.”

All eight, according to Tolentino, are first time scholars of this IOC program, and were chosen based on their respective performances the past few years in various international tournaments.

Under the IOC program, the Olympic Solidarity is to provide assistance to all National Olympic Committees (NOCs) like the POC for the development of athletes “in particular those with the greatest needs of it”.

This program is under Rule 5 of the IOC charter.

Each month, the local Olympic body would receive $7,500 from the IOC and that amount would be divided among the eight Filipino athletes, which means each would be receiving $937.50 monthly.

This month, the eight athletes would start receiving the said cash assistance but not through their respective national sports associations. The program is for every Olympic cycle, which means this one will end after the 2024 Summer Games in France.

“Derecho yung pera sa mga atleta. Bahala sila kung saan nila gusto gamitin, tournament fee, hotel accommodation, plane ticket, equipment, nasa sa kanila na. Basta quarterly may progress report sila (on the budget),” said Tolentino, a congressman of the 8th district of Cavite.