Cojuangco-Jaworski is PHL flag bearer in Asian Games
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) appointed Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski to lead the Philippine contingent in the opening ceremony of the 16th Asiad on November 12 on Haixinsha Island.
This will be the second time that a non-competing athlete becomes the Filipino athletes' flag bearer in an opening ceremony in a major sporting event.
Cojuangco-Jaworski is the daughter of POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr. and the cousin of President Noynoy Aquino. She follows in the footsteps of Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, who was the country's flag bearer in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Ricardo Garcia nominated Cojuangco-Jaworski as the nation's flag bearer during Friday's sendoff ceremony held at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
"(Mikee) deserves to be our flag bearer because she is an Asian Games gold medalist," said Garcia.
Cojuangco-Jaworski, the wife of Robert "Dudut" Jaworski Jr., son of basketball legend and former senator Robert Jaworski, gave the country its third and last gold in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, Korea when she won equestrian's show jumping event.
The gold came as a surprise since the former movie actress was not the favorite to win the event.
POC president Cojuangco said that anybody, whether he or she is an active athlete or not, can be nominated as the country’s flag bearer.
"Inisip din namin na kung isang atleta ang kunin bilang flag bearer ay baka maapektuhan siya sa kanyang paglalaro. It came as a surprise that Mikee was nominated although her name was mentioned as one of the candidates in the POC board meeting," said Cojuangco.
At first, Cojuangco-Jaworski was hesitant in accepting the position for fear of the negative comments that may arise since she’s the daughter of the POC president.
She later accepted the post after receiving warm applause from the Asian Games-bound athletes as a response when she asked the crowd if they are supporting her as the delegation’s flag bearer.
"It's a great honor for me to be the flag bearer. Being in Busan for the Asian Games is one of my cherished moments as an athlete, and I encourage all of you to make the most of the opportunity since you can never know if you may be able to compete again in an Asian Games," said Cojuangco-Jaworski.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, who was supposed to be the guest of honor and speaker, was a no-show but sent his message encouraging the athletes to show their worth and represent the country in the best possible way.
A total of 188 athletes will see action in 28 sports disciplines, hoping to match if not better the four-gold, six-silver and nine-bronze medal tally posted by the country in the 2006 Doha Asian Games. – JVP/KY, GMANews.TV