BOXING and other martial arts sports remain as the country’s brightest hopes for the gold medal in the coronavirus-delayed 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Boxing champion Eumir Felix Marcial is one of these athletes who could deliver the elusive gold.
This was the assessment of PBA legend-turned-sports official Ramon Fernandez when asked about the Filipinos’ chances in the Olympics during his appearance in the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) “Usapang Sports on Air” last Thursday.
Fernandez said both the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) are confident that the Filipinos can perform well in the prestigious multi-sport competition scheduled July 23-Aug. 8 in Tokyo, Japan.
“In the Olympics, I’m looking at boxing and I’m looking at Eumir Marcial (to win an Olympic medal),” said Fernandez, a commissioner of the PSC and chef de mission to the 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam.
“Sa tingin ko, may fighting chance at the Olympic gold.”
Fernandez said gymnast Caloy Yulo and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz also have a good chance in the Olympics.
“There’s also Caloy Yulo in gymnastics. Third on my list is Hidilyn Diaz. She has already proven herself. I hope she can can perform well on a higher weight category from 53 to 56 kgs,” explained Fernandez.
“Nandyan din yun mga longshot natin gaya ni (Ernest John) Obiena sa pole vault at yun mga atleta natin sa judo at golf. Meron pa sa ibang sports, gaya ng taekwondo, na may two to three athletes na uubra.”
A 19-time PBA champion and four-time PBA MVP, Fernandez also expressed high hopes in karate.
“Of course, we can also add karate, na may three female at three male athletes vying for Olympic tickets,” explained the 67-year-old Fernandez.
“Sa female division, I’m hoping Fil-Am Joane Orbon will perform very well. She used to be with the US before she tranferred to us a little over a year ago. She is also the Pan-Pacific champion,”added Fernandez.
“There’s also Fil-Japanese Junna Tsukii. Medyo mahirap lang yun category nya ngayon. She is playing at 51 kgs but I learned ang ginawa ng IF pinagsama na yun 51 at 55 kgs. One category na lang kaya may kabigatan.”
Another talented karateka who caught Fernandez’s eyes is 2019 SEA Games gold medalist Jamie Lim.
“There’s also Jamie Lim. We can never underestimate her perfomance coming back just before the SEA Games. Nakuha nya agad yun gold. It ‘s really the fighting spirit of our athletes that will really push them to achieve their goals.”
Fernandez, however, admitted the uncertainty facing the Tokyo Olympics due to the surge in coronavirus cases.
“Anything can happen. Mukhang 80 percent na nga yata ng kanilang population ang ayaw matuloy yun Olympics or gusto ma-postpone uli due to the pandemic,” claimed Fernandez.
“Until it (Tokyo Olympics) happens, we can never really be sure.”
Fernandez was referring to newspaper reports that greater Tokyo and other regions are currently under a state of emergency until at least February 7 due to the rise of the coronavirus.
With Fernandez during the forum were noted sports patron Jeremy Go of Go for Gold, cycling champion Ronnel Hualda and Philippine Tournament Bridge Association president Winston Arpon.
The weekly public service program of TOPS is sponsored by the PSC, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).