Mikaela Cojuangco-Jaworski confessed she did not tell former Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco Jr. about running for a position in the prestigious International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board.
In fact, the 2002 Asian Games show-jumping gold medalist revealed that the elder Cojuangco learned of her successful candidacy second hand.
“Actually hindi niya alam na kandidato ako. Hindi ko alam, baka nakaligtaan ko lang. (Actually my dad did not know I was running. Perhaps it was an oversight on my part),” said Cojuangco-Jaworksi.
On July 17, the former popular movie actress became the first Filipino and second Southeast Asian candidate to be elected to the highest decision-making body of the IOC during its 136th Congress, the first to be held online, organized from the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“Nagulat na lang si daddy na maraming nagko-congratulate na lang sa kanya. Doon ko lang nasabi, ‘Oo nga, dad, tumakbo ako bilang IOC Executive Board member at nanalo ako (My father was surprised that many were congratulating him. That’s only when I said, ‘Yes, dad, I ran for IOC Executive Board member and won) ,” Cojuangco-Jaworski recalled of her conversation with her father after she had won.
“ ‘O, sikat ka naman. Siguro nga nanalo ka kasi marami kumo-congratulate sa akin (‘You must be popular again. Maybe you did win because many are congratulating me’),” she added, quoting her father’s good-natured ribbing during their chat.
“Of course, my father was happy about my election, although he has kept referring to me as ‘boss’ since I became a regular member of the IOC,” said soft-spoken Cojuangco-Jaworski, who has been an IOC member since 2013 and was elected Equestrian Association of the Philippines president last February.
Her election, however, was no walk in the park considering there were three other strong candidates vying for the two slots and who were also more senior to her in the world Olympic body, according to Cojuangco-Jaworksi.
One of her rivals was close friend Dagmawit Germay Berhane, the former president of the Ethiopian Olympic Committee, who also decided on her own to run for board member. The others were Belgian businessman Pierre Olivers Beckers-Viejuant, the ex-chairman of the Belgian Olympic Committee; and Argentine banker Gerardo Werthein, also an equestrian rider.
The newly minted IOC board member recounted that the voting was done through secret ballot using a special computer program the IOC made for the occasion, with the two candidates earning the majority votes securing the board blots.
“Before the virtual IOC congress, we already had several online meetings on how the electoral process would be done so were aware how to go about it,” she pointed out.
There were actually three run-offs during the polls before Cojuangco-Jaworski and Wertheim emerged with a majority of 45 and 44 votes, respectively, with four abstentions, in gaining the seats on the IOC board.
“For two to three weeks before the election my focus was on my campaign, thinking that after the election I would be able to address the other priorities I had set aside,” said the equestrian champion. “But it was not to be because I even became busier than usual.”
The fact that she is in elite company as part of the IOC board is slowly sinking in, but she vowed not to let that get into her head.
“I promised the Lord that I won (as board member) I would not be proud. I would not like that to happen because I know that I didn’t get here without the support of others,” Cojuangco-Jaworski stressed.
“I believe that my success (in the IOC board) is also our success as a whole.”
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