Sunday, March 28, 2010

3rd Olango Challenge blasts off next month

3rd Olango Challenge blasts off next month
Sun.Star Cebu
March 23, 2010

By Marian C. Baring

AFTER two successful stagings of the Olango Challenge open water marathon swimming competition, the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) has a tall order to live up to as the third edition of the tournament takes center stage next month in Tambuli Beach Club.

Organizers are expecting close to a hundred swimmers to take part in the tournament, which is aimed not only at promoting the sport, which has become an Olympic event, but also at raising enough funds to finance several projects for Olango Island.

“Through pledges from well-meaning individuals, we hope to raise P1.2 million this year to help us with our projects for Olango Island,” said Visayas Executive Committee chairman of PBSP Jose Antonio Aboitiz.

The funds raised in the past two stagings resulted in the building of classrooms at the Candagsao Elementary School in the island. Students used to hold classes under the shade of trees.

This year, they want to raise funds for composting toilets for the Olango wildlife sanctuary, set up water catchments system in the island and fund inland forest in public areas of the island.

To make the competition more interesting, the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (Pasa), the country’s governing body for swimming, opens its doors to all swimmers—even to unregistered ones. The minimum age requirement is 14 years old and everyone is required to submit a medical certificate before the race.

“One of our objectives is to promote the sport. We want more people to join and know what marathon swimming is like,” said Pasa representative Alexander Reyes.

Aside from the fund raising aspect, the competition will also serve as Pasa’s selection tournament that will help them choose the athletes who will represent the country in two competitions abroad—the Asian Open Water World Cup in Hong Kong on Nov. 3 and the second Asian Beach Games in Oman on Dec. 8.

The registration forms are available at the PBSP office at 4F PLDT building in Mabolo or the Pasa office at the Philsports Complex in Pasig. The forms can also be downloaded at olangochallenge.wordpress.com.

(Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 24, 2010.)