THE Philippines hopes to send as many as 15 athletes in the coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics.
And one — or two — of them could possibly win the country’s first-ever gold medal since joining the world’s biggest sporting event in Paris in 1924.
“I am trying to be an expert here, but I think we have a very good chance to win a medal,” said Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez during the special yearend edition of the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom.
Ramirez said three of the four Tokyo Olympics-bound athletes are currently training abroad: pole vaulter EJ Obiena in Italy, gymnast Carlos Yulo in Japan and boxer Eumir Marcial in the United States.
The fourth Olympic qualifier — boxer Irish Magno — is still training in the country.
“Based on our assessment, there are still 83 elite athletes from 19 sports trying to get an Olympic ticket. We already have four qualifiers in Yulo, Obiena, Marcial and Magno. If we can get atleast 15 athletes marching for us in the Olympics, that will be a very good number,” added Ramirez during the weekly public service program sponsored by the PSC, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
“Dati, isa or dalawa lang ang atleta naipapadala natin. Yun iba, pilit na.”
Ramirez claimed the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and national sports associations have the responsibility to predict their chances in the Olympics and other international competitions.
But he said the PSC also make its own analysis on the athletes’ chances based on the funding they are giving.
“The biggest chance for the Philippines to win a gold in the Olympics is in boxing, weightlifting, rhythmic gymnastics and martial arts sports like taekwondo, judo and karate,” said Ramirez.
“Based on experience, the most difficult medals to win come from track and field and swimming, which are dominated by rich countries.”
“In my own analysis, Caloy (Yulo) has a very good chance. The way he is performing, malaki ang chance. Sana gold. If he can’t get the gold in Tokyo, maybe sa Paris he can get it,” Ramirez told TOPS editors, reporters, and photographers.
“Rio Olympics weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz also has a very good chance. She is a potential gold medalist,” added Ramirez.
“When she (Diaz) first came to PSC, she was 16 years old. It took her several years bago manalo ng silver kaya alam namin hindi madali. Kapag nanalo sya, we know it’s not tsamba.”
“Eumir also has a chance. We invested a lot of government money on him because we know he can a win the gold. It will be a little hard on EJ (Obiena) because he will be up against strong European entries. But we are not stopping him to take his chances.”
The former high-ranking Davao City official also expressed confidence that Filipino-Japanese judo champion Kiyomi Watanabe can also make it to Tokyo.
“We have took at Kiyomi. She’s winning medals all over the world. She’s a very good and disciplined girl,” explained Ramirez.
“I hope (Nesthy) Petecio will also qualify and join Irish Magno in boxing.”
Ramirez, however, admitted it is very hard to predict in sports.
“Even the most progressive countries, like the United States and Russia, cannot predict. They already have a very scientific sports system.”
The PSC head said athletes and coaches from three combat sports — boxing, taekwondo and karate — will undergo bubble training at the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna starting January.
These athletes and coaches will be confined to the venue for 90 days.
Boxing will have the most number of athletes and coaches in the bubble with 16 people with a budget of P2 million for training.
The budget included room and lodging, meals, snacks, gym rentals and use of facilities.
“We’re discussing this matter with Hans Sy for sometime now. If this succeed, we might expand the bubble to all qualified and deserving athlete, including those preparing for the AIMAG (Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games) and SEA Games in Vietnam.
Ramirez said he has also instructed his staff in the government sports agency to come to Tokyo at least one month before the actual competitions to help the athletes acclimatize.
“Kahit pareho ang temperature, madami pa din kailangan gawin, lalo na yun adjustment social environment,”he added.Publication Source : People's Tonight