CHEATS  WARNED  AS  PALARO  GETS  UNDER  WAY

KORONADAL, APRIL 23, 2007
(STAR) By Joey Villar - The 2007 Palarong Pambansa unfolded in this southern city yesterday with Philippine Sports Commission chair William "Butch" Ramirez exhorting the youth to strive for excellence while urging the teachers and coaches to support their student-athletes and help keep the competition free from "age cheating" and "identity switching."

"Don’t spoil the athletes’ reformation, good work is the best legacy that is lasting," said Ramirez, who represented President Arroyo after the Chief Executive begged off due to more pressing concerns at Malacañang.

The Davao-based former educator also warned technical officials, referees and judges to refrain from bias officiating and unfair judgment in this annual, weeklong multi-sports meet for elementary and high school athletes that produced the likes of Asian Games queen Lydia de Vega-Mercado, Southeast Asian Games record holder Henry Dagmil and Arnel Ferreria and SEAG multi-gold medalist Eric Buhain.

"If you are not qualified, don’t judge, if you cannot be fair, don’t officiate," he stressed.

Ramirez was obviously referring to the irregularities that marred the 2006 staging of the annual event in Naga City where about 14 athletes and coaches were investigated for their involvement in age cheating and identity switching, forcing the Department of Education to implement stricter guidelines this year.

Meanwhile, some 7,000 athletes, officials and delegation members of all 17 regions braved the scorching heat in yesterday’s opening rites highlighted by the traditional parade of colors and the symbolic lighting of the urn at the newly renovated South Cotabato Sports Complex here.

Host city Mayor Fernando Miguel welcomed the participants to the event, the first being staged here in a decade.

A number of gold medals will be up for grabs today as action in track and field, debuting arnis, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, chess, football, sepak takraw, softball, gymnastics, table tennis, lawn tennis and volleyball fires off in different venues within the city.

In medal-rich track and field alone, six gold medals will be staked in girls secondary javelin throw, boys secondary long jump, boys secondary javelin, boys elementary triple jump, girls elementary shot put and boys secondary triple jump with 2006 overall champion National Capital Region expected to dominate the field again.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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