YANQING, China — Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino met face-to-face with alpine skier Asa Miller on Wednesday and encouraged the country’s lone representative in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to give it his best shot.
Despite a world-class field, Tolentino is hoping the 21-year-old Miller could pull off the improbable task and join the ranks of Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and company.
“Remember what I gave our Olympic medalists — the gold, the silver and the bronze? I gave them a house and lot each in Tagaytay. Get one,” Tolentino told Miller during a meeting with the members of Team Philippines at the National Alpine Skiing Centre atop Xiaohaituo Mountain.
“The gold medalist [Diaz] got more than a million dollars,” said Tolentino,
The Portland (Oregon)-based Miller humbly responded to Tolentino’s challenge.
“I’ll do my best … there are lots of best skiers out there. It takes time, I have to build and take the process,” said Miller, who thanked Tolentino and the Philippine Sports Commission for supporting his campaign.
POC chief legal counsel Billy Sumagui accompanied Tolentino. They were joined by Chef de Mission Bones Floro, Athletes Welfare Officer Joebert Yu and Philippine Snowboarding and Ski Federation President Jim Apelar in meeting Miller.
The Winter Olympics commence on Friday with Miller hitting the slopes for the men’s giant slalom on February 13 and the slalom three days later.
Tolentino, meanwhile, said that he will explore the development of winter sports in years to come.
“It’s really an honor to have Asa here to represent our country, this is a very expensive sport, you have to pay for everything—the gear, including the gondola,” Tolentino said. “We will explore the Winter Games sports and we will try to find more Filipino talents.”
The Philippines has been consistent in qualifying athletes at least in the last three Winter Olympics although figure skater Michael Martinez missed the Beijing edition after Sochi 2014 where he was the first Southeast Asian to vie in the event and the Pyeongchang 2018.
In the Tokyo Games last year, the Philippines won its first Olympic gold medal with Diaz topping the women’s -55 kg in weightlifting and boxers Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio clinching silver medals and Eumir Felix Marcial bagging a bronze.