Wanted: Help for Tokyo Olympians

July 07, 2020
Caloy Yulo
Yulo: Pride of the Philippines.

THE Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) will have to knock on the doors of the private sector soon to ensure the continuity of training of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics-bound athletes.

PSC officer-in-charge Ramon Fernandez said training and preparations of Olympic hopefuls Caloy Yulo (gymnastics), Ernest John "EJ" Obiena (pole vault) and Eumir Felix Marcial and and Irish Magno (boxing) should continue even during the coronavirus resurgence.

But Fernandez, who was appointed as OIC from June 22 to July 17 while Chairman William "Butch" Ramirez is on leave, said funding remains the biggest problem of the government sports agency.

"President Duterte promised to give us the budget we need for the training of our athletes to the Tokyo Olympics. But as we all know, most of our budget was re-directed in the government's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Fernandez in last Thursday's TOPS “Usapang Sports on Air” via Zoom.

"So now we have to look for money and knock on the doors of our friends in the private sector," added Fernandez during the same forum sponsored by the PSC and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation. (PAGCOR).

Fernandez also said he will talk with Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Rep. Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino and Team Philippines Chef de Mission Mariano "Nonong" Araneta to discuss the condition of other Filipino athletes also hoping to qualify to the Olympics.

“We plan to meet with POC and the CDM (chef de mission) Nonong Araneta to discuss the resumption of training of our national athletes," said Fernandez.

Among these world-class athletes still vying for Olympic tickets are Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting), Margielyn Didal (skateboarding), Nesthy Petecio (boxing), Junna Tsukii and Jamie Lim (karate), Pauline Lopez (taekwondo), Kiyomi Watanabe (judo), Yuka Saso (golf), Kristina Knott and Eric Cray (400m) and the Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 men's basketball team of Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol and Santi Santillan.

“Sana makapag-padala tayo ng mga athletes sa Tokyo na may atleast 75 percent of chance na manalo,” said Fernandez.

Actually,  Fernandez and other top officials are hoping to send more Filipino athletes to the Tokyo Olympics and boost the country’s chances to win its first-ever Olympic gold medal since it first took part in Paris in 1924.

Aside from Marcial and  Magno, the Alliance of Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) is looking to madd a few more from among the 11 other fighters still battling for qualifying tournaments scheduled in the second half of the year up to early part of next year.

Other sports capable of  producing Olympic hopefuls are swimming, track and field,  cyclimg, fencing, taekwondo, karatedo, judo and weightlifting.

Available records  show that the Philippines sent the most number of athletes with 64 when the Japanese capital of Tokyo hosted the Olympics for the first time.

It was also in Tokyo in 1964 where bantamweight fighter Anthony Villaneuva captured the first of the country’s three silver medals so far.

The Philippines sent 51 athletes in Munich in 1972, 49 athletes in Mexico in 1968 and 39 athletes in Berlin in 1936.