THE just concluded 14th Milo Little Olympics Mindanao held in Cagayan de Oro over the weekend was an acid test for the city’s capability to host the 2010 national finals scheduled on October 14-17.

Milo Little Olympics Mindanao area organizer Megdonio Llamera said the national event will be undertaken by the Integrated Sports Council which comprises of the city government of Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, and the Department of Education (DepEd) in region 10.

Llamera said the preparations are going smoothly with Nestle Philippines tackling the transportation and food expenses of about 7,000 outstanding school-based athletes nationwide expected to participate in the big event.

“We are ready to handle this event,” Llamera declared, adding that all elements that would ensure the success of this sporting event are in place, including the experience of the local organizers, the existence of festivals in the hosting locality, standard sports facilities, and support from local government officials.

Cagayan de Oro’s Gregorio Pelaez Sports Center, northern Mindanao’s biggest sports venue, had already hosted several big sporting events in the past, including the Palarong Pambansa.

The sports center, located at the heart of the sprawling metropolis, is run by the provincial government of Misamis Oriental. It underwent a major facelift during the first term of incumbent Gov. Oscar Moreno, making it one of the well-sought sports centers in the country today.

Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar S. Moreno has assured the organizers of his full support being a sportsman himself.

Moreno has been instrumental in elevating the stature of athletes from the province by sponsoring various national sports events, such as chess and boxing tournaments, among others. The provincial government is also backing the Misamis Oriental Niños in professional basketball.

But Moreno has introduced a twist in this year’s national finals. His suggestion to incorporate the recently inaugurated Misamis Oriental Heritage Monument into the Milo Little Olympics logo has been accepted by national organizers.

Llamera likewise thanked all the participating schools for the successful staging of the Milo Little Olympics Mindanao leg last week.
Last year, when the 1st National MILO Little Olympics was held in Cebu, Mindanao placed third-place overall. The host emerged as champion, followed by the National Capital Region, while Luzon placed fourth.

In this year’s national finals, two changes have been introduced. First, the swimming and taekwondo events will now be patterned after the competitions in the Palarong Pambansa.

Milo event organizer Ricky Ballesteros said, starting in Cagayan de Oro national finals, both events will have same number of competitions done in the national games.

In swimming, Ballesteros said 11 events will be added comprising three new distances—50-meter in the elementary division and 800m and 1,500m in the secondary in different strokes. The taekwondo events will also follow the weight categories used in the Palaro.
Also starting this year, outstanding athletes will only be named during the National Finals.

Ballesteros said instead of naming one outstanding athlete per sport, a female and male awardee will be picked.

This brings to a total of 44 athletes to be named most outstanding during the national finals.

He also said that Pangasinan will play host to 2011 national finals.

article by Nelson Constantino of Business Week Mindanao

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