THE triathlon community in Cebu has cast their support for the online petition to reinstate triathlon as part of the events in the 2017 Southeast Asian (Sea) Games in Malaysia.
The Olympic Council of Malaysia recently released the initial list of 34 sports for the Games on Aug. 19 to 31 next year, and triathlon has been omitted from the list.
Bodybuilding, canoeing, fencing and judo are also not included. Oddly, it included ice hockey and ice skating in the list.
The host country has the prerogative as to which sport they want to include in the games. And although the list could still be revised pending the SEA Games Federation meeting in July, this news still earned flak, prompting an online petition from the triathlon community of Southeast Asia.
And with triathlon a strong event for Filipinos, several Cebuanos are jumping in to throw their support for a sport that is synonymous with Cebu.
Cebu is considered one of the triathlon hubs in the country and hundreds of triathletes have already expressed their support for the petition. The website targets 5,000 signatures and will be closing it on Feb. 29.
A national team member for triathlon, Cebuano Justin Chiongbian, said that he does not see any valid reason why triathlon has been dropped.
“There are criteria to consider for an event to be removed—a major doping scandal, a massive drop in popularity and large- scale corruption in the sport. I don’t see any of those things happening in triathlon,” he said.
The 16-year-old Chiongbian pointed out that the sport is actually growing rapidly as multi-sports events are being hosted in the Southeast Asian region, and the number of participants of these events grows dramatically over the years.
However, based on how Olympic events are dropped from the roster of events, Chiongbian sees no reason for Malaysia to exclude it from next year’s games.
“It is absurd that they do not include triathlon in the SEA Games,” he added.
However, he is confident that this issue will be resolved because the decision requires the votes of the Olympic Committee of each participating country in the SEA Games.
John Pages, a triathlete and sports organizer in Cebu, also showed support and said that the decision to exclude it from the Sea Games is outrageous.
Millette Chiongbian, Justin’s mother, also said that triathlon is an official Olympic sport and must be given priority.
“Just like any other Olympic sport, triathlon must be given importance,” said Melvin Banzon of Cebu in the petition that has more than 1,300 signatories—mostly from the Philippines, Singapore, Japan and even Malaysia—as of yesterday.
The Philippines is counting on triathlon as a source of gold medals. In the 2015 Sea Games in Singapore, the country bagged two gold medals from the event courtesy of Nikko Huelgas and Claire Adorna, who topped the men’s and women’s divisions.
The other sports being considered for the 29th SEAG are athletics, aquatics, archery, badminton, basketball, boxing, cricket, cycling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, hockey, karate, lawn bowls, netball, sila, petanque, rugby sevens, sailing, sepak takraw, shooting, cue sports, squash, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, bowling, volleyball, water ski, weightlifting and wushu.