MANILA, APRIL 18, 2008
(STAR)  SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson - By accident, Filipino Olympic qualifiers Tshomlee Go and Toni Rivero will be spared from facing a Chinese opponent in taekwondo at the Beijing Olympics this August.

In the Olympics, a country is limited to two men and two women entries in taekwondo. There are eight gold medals at stake, four in the menís division and four in the womenís. As host nation, China received automatic berths in the divisions of its choice - welterweight and heavyweight for men and flyweight and heavyweight for women.

Go, 27, will compete in the menís bantamweight class and Rivero, 20, in the womenís welterweight division.

At the Athens Olympics four years ago, China captured two gold medals in taekwondo, courtesy of female jins. Chen Zhong was the heavyweight champion while Luo Wei ruled the welterweight category. Asia took seven of the eight gold medals at stake with South Korea, Chinese-Taipei and China collecting two each and Iran topping the menís featherweight class. The US was the only non-Asian country to hit paydirt with Steven Lopez claiming the gold in the menís welterweight division.

Taekwondo was admitted as a regular Olympic event in 2000 after being a demonstration sport in 1988 with Monsour del Rosario and Stephen Fernandez representing the country and in 1992 with Fernandez and Bea Lucero bringing home a bronze apiece from Barcelona. Walter Vargas was also on the 1992 team. Cruz, Eva Marie Ditan, Donnie Geisler and Jasmin Strachan competed in Sydney while Go, Rivero and Geisler wore the national colors in Athens. Strachan came closest to bagging a medal, losing in the third round.

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Nonito Donaire Sr. said when he left his son, Nonito Jr. in San Leandro, California, last week, his instructions were to continue training so as not to gain too much weight.

ďJun is up to 135 pounds,Ē said Donaire Sr. who is in Davao City setting up a stable of promising young fighters. ďI donít want him to reach 140 like the last time. He was already down to 121 training for Dubai. If Jun fights (Fernando) Montiel, it will be at 115. If he fights (Hussein) Hussein, it will be at 112. So in either case, he canít afford to build up too much weight. He runs everyday so itís not like heís letting himself go. Heís watching what he eats because he knows at any time, he might get a call for a fight.Ē

Donaire Sr. recalled his sonís ordeal when he weighed 140 pounds about six weeks before staking the IBF flyweight crown against Luis Maldonado in Connecticut last December. The defending champion somehow brought his weight down to 112 and promptly disposed of Maldonado in eight.

Donaire Jr. began training for a defense against Hussein last February but the April 18 fight in Dubai was cancelled when Arab financiers failed to comply with conditions in the promotional contract. He is now hoping to fight Hussein or Montiel, the WBO superflyweight titleholder, or a worthy contender in the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-David Diaz main event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on June 28.

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Is it true that misguided BAP elements offered not to challenge PLDT chairman Manny Pangilinan if he decides to seek a fresh mandate as BAP-SBP president in the May 31 elections in exchange for recognition of its 66 affiliates as active associations and voting in its nominee as chairman?

If it is, nobody is biting. A BAP-SBP source said the compromise is not an option at all. Here are four reasons why.

Firstly, the BAP has no personality to even come to the negotiating table to bargain. When the BAP and Pilipinas Basketball were fused to create the SBP as the new NSA for basketball and country affiliate of FIBA two years ago, the understanding was both the merging entities would die a natural death. So as not to rock the FIBA boat too much because of the BAPís long-time affiliation, it was agreed to name the new organization BAP-SBP. But the concession was by no means an indication that the BAP would remain a distinct and active body. In fact, the BAP had lost its reason to exist after it was expelled as an NSA by the POC.

Secondly, Pangilinan will never enter into a deal where he stands to benefit personally at the expense of the BAP-SBP. The word is heís sick and tired of the politics in sports. Pangilinan will not likely run for a new term. The probability is he will leave the reins in the hands of a reputable successor but will agree to become chairman if only to keep alive his vision of a unified Philippine basketball program.

Thirdly, there are qualifying rules set down by the BAP-SBP membership committee headed by Ely Capacio. The rules will not be bent to accommodate any association or organization and are not subject to negotiation.

Lastly, the BAP has no right to insist on its nominee as chairman because in reality, it no longer is a stakeholder in Philippine basketball.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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