• Bubka: Develop athletics at grassroots

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    Pole vault Olympic champion Sergei Bubka (3rd from left) signs the jersey of Filipino pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena (3rd from right) during their meeting at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City on Sunday. Looking on are pole vault national coach Emerson Obiena, Philippine Amateur Track and Field (PATAFA) President Go Teng Kok, PATAFA Vice Chairman Philip Juico and Jeanette Obiena. PHOTO BY EDWIN MULI

    Pole vault Olympic champion Sergei Bubka (3rd from left) signs the jersey of Filipino pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena (3rd from right) during their meeting at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City on Sunday. Looking on are pole vault national coach Emerson Obiena, Philippine Amateur Track and Field (PATAFA) President Go Teng Kok, PATAFA Vice Chairman Philip Juico and Jeanette Obiena. PHOTO BY EDWIN MULI

    The Philippines must strengthen its grassroots programs particularly in athletics, a pole vault legend has suggested.

    Sergey Bubka, senior vice president of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) and president of Ukraine’s national Olympic Committee, arrived in the country over the weekend to promote athletics sport and participate in the Olympic Council of Asia’s affair in Manila this week.

    Bubka captured six consecutive world championships and one Olympic gold medal (1988 in Seoul). He has shattered the men’s pole vault record 35 times and was the first to clear 6.0 meters.

    “Sports is a unique opportunity for everybody,” Bubka told reporters during a press lunch on Sunday. “I go here and to some places to encourage their kids to engage in different sports particularly in athletics, the best sports.”

    Bubka, who was welcomed by Philippine Track and Field Association (Patafa) President Go Teng Kok and Chairman Philip Ella Juico upon his arrival, called for the Filipino women to take part in sports.

    “Sport can build a strong character, create healthy lifestyle, and achieve their goals, so I like to see the women of the Philippines and women of other Asian countries to take part in any kind of sports activities,” he said.

    Go said the 50-year-old Bubka promised to send the Philippine athletics team to train in Italy this year.

    “That’s what he promised,” Go told The Manila Times. “He really likes to help athletes from various countries particularly in the Asian region because he is really dedicated to promote athletics.”

    Bubka, a member of the IOC executive board, ran last year as International Olympic Committee (IOC) president but lost to Thomas Bach.

    He is considered to be the youngest IOC president candidate.

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