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Alvin Aguilar hopes to bring PH wrestlers back in Olympics with Russian coach taking charge

Wrestling chief Alvin Aguilar sets sights on ending a long drought of not seeing Filipino wrestlers in the Olympics. TOPS
By Dugout Philippines

MANILA--Wrestling of the Philippines (WAP) president Alvin Aguilar has expressed confidence that the reforms implemented in the association will result in unwavering success for Pinoy wrestlers, including a return to the Olympics.

Aguilar, founder of the popular Mixed Martial Arts promotion Universal Reality Combat Championships (URCC), asserted that the arrival of Russian wrestler star Aleksandr Safronov as head coach has provided a more stable program for the development of wrestling in the country.

"Safronov's father used to coach the Russian wrestling team when it was still intact. As a fighter during his time, he (Safronov) defeated all the high-caliber wrestlers in Russia. Hence, the technique he provides is a big thing for our athletes," said Aguilar during his visit to the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports, Inc. (TOPS) 'Usapang Sports' this Thursday at the PSC Conference Room inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

In fact, Pinoy wrestlers, under Safronov's supervision, won a medal in the United World Wrestling (UWW) United World Grappling Asian Championships this past year in Astana, Kazakhstan, as a result of Safronov's intensive training.

Fierre Afan and Maria Aisa Ratcliff won gold medals in their respective events in the under-20 and Open classes, respectively, which, according to Aguilar, strengthened Filipinos' status as a 'force to reckon with' in wrestling.

"If it's just grappling, Filipinos are a shoo-in in the Olympics. We can handle that. We have recruited Fil-Ams, who are world-ranked, but there was just an issue with the documents. By chance, we have an official who will qualify for the Paris Olympics this August," Aguilar said at the annual sports forum sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, Behrouz Persian Cuisine, and Pocari Sweat.

Despite the failure to obtain the services of the two Filipino-foreign athletes, Aguilar said that the country's source of talent is already vast due to the implementation of the (WAP) Regionalization program, which involves nonstop activities in the provinces, including seminars, training, and tournaments that can be used in their recruiting system.

"There is no reason for our countrymen to stop playing the sport of wrestling. Even though our budget is limited, we ensure the program will reach them because we will go to their places ourselves," he said.

Still part of the consolidation for the coveted Olympic slot, WAP will hold the Asian Continental Grappling Championship next month at the Tagaytay Combat Center.

"As WAP president, I must fulfill my promise to send a Filipino wrestler to the Olympics," said Aguilar.

On record, the last Filipino wrestlers to reach the Olympics were Florentino Tirante (men's -52kg freestyle/Greco Roman) and Dean-Carlos Manibog (men's -60kg freestyle) in the 1988 edition in Seoul, South Korea.

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