March 7, 2011

Django Wants Billiards In Olympics

Francisco “Django” Bustamante is batting for the inclusion of billiards in the Olympic Games.
“If billiards were in the Olympic calendar, a Filipino would have been already a winner of the elusive Olympic gold,” said the 47-year-old Django, one of the four PSA-Coca-Cola Athletes of the Year for 2010.
“Now is the best time.”

Bustamante was honored by the PSA for winning last year’s World 9-Ball Championship and for becoming the second Asian pool player (the first was his longtime stablemate at Puyat Sports, Efren “Bata” Reyes) to be enshrined in the prestigious Hall of Fame of the Billiards Congress of America.
Also named top athletes by the country’s sportswriters were the three gold-medal winners in 16th Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China—tenpin bowler Biboy Rivera, boxer Rey Saludar and cue artist Dennis Orcollo.

Django’s long-sought dream of billiards becoming an Olympic event was shared by other pool greats such as Bugsy Promotions’ Orcollo, newly crowned World 8-Ball champion; and Reyes, the durable pool legend who made the country proud by capturing the US 9-Ball Open in 1994 and the World 9-Ball Championship in 1999.

Reyes, who is also known as “The Magician” in pool circles, was elevated to the PSA Hall of Fame together with the former International Chess Federation (Fide) president, the late Florencio Campomanes.
In the last 50 years, billiards has been seeking to be a part of the Olympic menu, but all efforts were in vain mainly because the leaders of the sport lacked unity.

“It won’t be included in the coming 2012 London Olympics nor in the 2016 Games,” said Ian Anderson, president of the World Pool-Billiards Association (WPA), one of several organizations that hold pool tournaments around the globe.

It’s a crying shame simply because the Filipino cue artists continue to lose the golden chance of capturing their first ever Olympic gold. As Billiards Digest, the Chicago-based American pool magazine, once reported: 14 titles out 49 world tournaments (excluding Orcollo’s victory in this year’s World 8-Ball Championship in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates) were won by players from the Philippines.
Can you beat that?

Added Django in an interview: “Imagine, me and my kumpadre Efren and other young and promising Filipinos playing for the Philippines in the Olympics. We could have won many gold medals by now.”
I agree.
* * *

In the book “The Olympic Movement in the Philippines,” former Philippine Olympic Committee president Celso Dayrit writes:

While the IOC (International Olympic Committee) owns and organizes the Olympic Games, the actual competitions are governed and controlled by the respective ISFs (International Sports Federations). These working arrangements between the IOC and the ISFs are premised on mutual respect for each other’s jurisdiction and authority.

The IOC also recognizes other ISFs whose sports are not on the Olympic program, including the little-known World Confederation of Billiards Sports. But there are still other sports whose ISFs have not been recognized by the IOC, including sepak takraw, darts, muay thai, and many more.



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