THE Philippine canoe kayak team will have to pass the proverbial eye of the needle in the Asian qualifying tournaments to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
But Philippine Canoe-Kayak-Dragonboat Federation (PCKDF) head coach Leonora “Len” Escollante painted a bright picture of the Filipinos’ chances to clinch the lone slot to be disputed in the Asian qualifier scheduled March 11-13 in Pattaya, Thailand.
Escollante said the two Filipino bets — 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Hermie Macaranas and Ojay Fuentes — continue to train hard for the 1000-meters canoe doubles.
“Puspusan pa din naman ang ginagawang mga pagsasanay ng ating dalawang atleta kahit may mga limitasyon dahil sa health and safety protocols,” said Escollante during the 22nd “Usapang Sports on Air” organized by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) and sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
“Ina-asahan na talaga namin na para kang dadaan ka sa butas ng karayom bago ka qualify dito, lalo na dahil one-km long distance talaga,” added Escollante, a native of Tacloban City.
Escollante said China, Iran and former Russian republics Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan remain as the biggest rivals of the philippines in the Asian qualifying event in Pattaya.
“Tiyak ko na malalaki at matatangkad ang mga kalahok ng mga bansang ito. Siguradong malalakas ang mga ito sa long distance events.”
But Escollante said the worldwide coronavirus pandemic that forced a lockdown on most sports affected the training not only of the Philippines but the other countries as well.
“Mahirap pa ngayon na mag-predict, lalo na lahat naman naapektuhan ng pandemic. Hindi ko masasabi ang tsansa ng mga atleta natin, pero sigurado lalaban ang mga iyan,” added Escollante.
Escollante thanked both the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), led by newly-elected president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, and PSC, headed by Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez,for their continued support to PCKDF.
“Sa PSC, nagpapasalamat kami mula sa PCKDF dahil naibigay na yun mga allowances ng mga atleta natin sa team sports,” said Escollante.
She also urged fellow national team athletes and coaches to support to Tolentio and the other new POC officers.
“Suportahan natin sila para magawa nila yun mga plano nila para sa sports,” added Escollante.
Escollante was joined in the weekly public service forum also shown on Facebook Live and YouTube by Beach Volleyball Republic co-founder Bea Tan, national women’s chess champion Jan Jodilyn Fronda and national tennis champion Marian Jade Capadocia.