(STAR) By Abac Cordero - As it is, only boxing and taekwondo are assured of a godfather and a broad shoulder to lean on in their bid to bring honor to the country in the Beijing Olympics in August.

The other sports that were placed in the Olympic program (archery, lawn tennis, swimming, diving, fencing, rowing, weightlifting and wushu) were given two weeks to look for their own.

“Otherwise, we will provide them with one. But we’re giving them democratic space to look for a godfather of their preference,” said the RP chief-de-mission, Rep. Monico Puentevella.

“They can look at the recent Forbes (magazine) list that identified the 40 richest Filipinos. From there they can choose their preferred godfathers.”

Boxing and taekwondo, the sports with the greatest chance of landing a medal for the Philippines in the next Olympics, have found a godfather in PLDT/Smart chairman Manny V. Pangilinan.

The team owner of the Talk N Text team in the PBA, in fact, has pledged P18 million for the boxing program, starting off with the qualifying tournaments all the way to the actual participation in Beijing.

“We want the others to look for godfathers. This way, there will be some sort of mutual admiration between the sport and the godfather before they are presented to President Arroyo,” said Puentevella.

During yesterday’s meeting among the country’s top sports officials and representatives of the 10 NSAs, the budgets for each of the sport were presented but not necessarily approved.

“We decided to give them two more weeks to review and finalize them,” added Puentevella, a member of the core group that includes Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez and Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco.

By tapping godfathers from the private sector, the 10 NSAs can count on a bigger support for the training of their athletes who have either qualified for the Beijing Games or are still trying to qualify.

The PSC, the government’s funding arm in sports, has earmarked P30 million for the Olympic program. But sports officials believe that this won’t be enough to help the country win the elusive gold.

Meanwhile, the PSC celebrates its 18th anniversary today by gathering Filipino Olympians, including some who have won medals for the country in the quadrennial event, like boxers Anthony Villanueva and Roel Velasco.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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