By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
ELECTED for a second term as an officer of the Philippine Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission, bemedaled triathlete Nikko Huelgas said that he remains committed to helping the body fortify its structure and build on the gains it has achieved since being established in 2015.
Formed to have national athletes better representation in the decision making and direction of local sports affairs, Mr. Huelgas said the significance of having an athletes’ commission in the overall scheme of things of sports administration cannot be denied and that its existence should continue to be fostered so as to give the attention that athletes deserve.
“The Athletes’ Commission is very significant because it gives athletes like me a voice in the Olympic Committee. I can address my concerns, address my issues wherein if I have a question and have no one else to turn, I can go to the commission which would act as an advisory board,” said Mr. Huelgas, who served as chairman of the body from 2015 up to last year, in an interview.
“[With the commission] I feel more secured as an athlete that if something happens to me, someone can protect or help me because I believe the commission has enough leverage, with many people wanting to help (be they lawyers, corporate sponsors) to make Philippine sports progress,” he added.
Mr. Huelgas, a two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, was elected for a second term as officer of the athletes commission in elections held on Jan. 11.
Voted in to the body as well were Olympic swimmer Jessie Lascuna, softball’s Cheska Altamonte, taekwondo jin Samuel Morrison and Philippine Volcanoes player and official Jake Letts.
Said officers are to serve from this year up to 2024.
Chooks-to-Go-supported athlete Mr. Huelgas underscored that the thrust of the commission is steadily taking root and that it has come a long way from the slow pace it had at the start.
“I would say I’m 80% satisfied on how things went for us during my first term. I started in 2015 as the chairman. And out of the four people elected three of them were inactive in a span of a year. So from there I had to start from scratch. I had to walk alone. Good thing the executive assistant of the POC helped me and appointed one person [to come on board], Hidilyn Diaz, so it was the two of us. The year after, softball and karate became an Olympic sport so I was able to request for two more people — Cheska Altomonte (softball) and OJ Delos Santos (karate) — and from there we became a four-man team and we were able to create a working structure,” he said.
Adding, “And from there we started with the athletes’ career program in 2017, and in 2018 the athletes’ forum where for the first time we were able to meet almost all of the captains of the nationals teams.”
Having more active officers elected this time around, Mr. Huelgas said he is bullish of the organization growing further pushing forward.
“We have more options now that we are five as officers. In 2017 we had one project and 2018 three. In 2019 we had five projects. I think we have created the right structure to take cue from and we hope to have four to five projects this year,” he said.
One of the projects he is determined to push is a bigger athletes’ forum with more stakeholders and officials involved.
“The athletes forum we want it to bigger this year where the Philippine Sports Commission can make a presentation, the POC is represented and government officials like the Speaker of the House and one from Senate present. We want all the leaders there so the athletes can voice their concerns and have these addressed,” said Mr. Huelgas, who is also in the middle of training for competitions this year, including the Asian championship in Japan on April 25.