Iran accord boost to wrestlers, lifters

By Olmin Leyba, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 07 2014 04:06 PM | Updated as of Jun 08 2014 12:06 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia wants Filipino athletes to take advantage of the new memorandum of understanding for sports cooperation with Iran as they gear up for the Asian Games and next year’s Southeast Asian Games.

According to Garcia, Filipino bets in sports where the Iranians are traditionally strong like wrestling and weightlifting should gain from this MOU, which he signed with Iran’s Minister of Sport and Youth Mahmoud Goodarzi in Tehran earlier this week.

“Looking at Iran’s gold medal harvest in the London Olympics of three golds in wrestling and one gold in weightlifting, Chairman Garcia is convinced we should send our wrestlers and weightlifters to Iran for training,” said PSC executive director Guillermo Iroy Jr., who accompanied Garcia in Iran.

Iranian wrestlers won three golds and two bronzes in London while their lifters had a 1-2-1 gold-silver-bronze collection.

Iroy said the Wrestling Association of the Philippines (WAP) is amenable to the training in Iran. As for weightlifting, Iroy said Garcia will try to bring Olympian Hidilyn Diaz to the Middle East nation to prepare her for Asiad and also the qualifiers for the 2016 Olympics.

Iran is also a powerhouse in the karatedo but the Pinoy karatekas are already booked for an overseas training in Turkey for the Incheon Games buildup, according to Iroy.

“The training in Iran should also serve as part of long-term buildup for the SEA Games, which will be held just eight months after the Asian Games,” said Iroy.

Phl and Iran forged a sports agreement as part of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

In this regard, the PSC will arrange for the visit of three high profile Pinoy greats - bowling legend Paeng Nepomuceno and billiards icons Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante - for exchange and exhibition in Iran. Nepomuceno won the first of his four World Cup titles in the Iranian capital back in the 1970s, bringing nostalgia to the planned trip.