Tiniest man in PH team bears heaviest burden


HOMETOWN SUPPORT. Divers perform synchronized underwater swimming at Manila Ocean Park on Friday to show support for the Filipino Olympians competing in the 2012 London Olympics. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

LONDON—Of the 11 Filipinos seeing action in the 30th Olympic Games, the tiniest man also carries the heaviest burden.

Mark Anthony Barriga, the lone boxer in the delegation, weighs only 49 kilograms (107.8 lbs.), placing him in the light flyweight division of the boxing competitions here.

Boxing had been the Philippines’ only source of hope in previous Olympic delegations, but that aspiration appeared to be almost beyond reach with only one Filipino fighter qualifying for the Olympics.

Arriving recently from Cardiff in Wales where he trained for three weeks, Barriga is in London with enough confidence and experience to raise the expectations of his coach, Roel Velasco, and broadcaster-turned-amateur-boxing-official Ed Picson.

“I can say he’s ready for the Olympics,” said Picson. He added that Barriga, a native of Panabo, Davao del Norte, had impressed fans and fellow boxers in Cardiff during his sparring sessions with fellow Olympic aspirants in the run-up to the Games.

In fact, Filipinos in Cardiff were so impressed with Barriga’s performance in training that they have started calling him Little Pacman, as the Pacman (aka Manny Pacquiao) was himself a light flyweight in the early days of his storied boxing career.

Chances good

“His chances are good,” Velasco reported to former boxing chief Manny Lopez, now the Philippine delegation’s chief of mission.

Velasco knows whereof he speaks. He himself won a bronze medal as a light flyweight in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, while his brother Mansueto won the silver medal in the same division in Atlanta four years later.

No Filipino has won a medal since then. Velasco believes his ward would finally break that long medal drought in London.

Barriga starts that quest on Tuesday.

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  • BatangSingapore

    ILABAN MO ANG PILIPINAS BARRIGA.  pasensya ka na kung kinukurakot ng mga intsik na nasa gobyerno ang budget mo.  balang araw pasisibatin natin mga intsik na yan sa ating sistema upang mag kampeon ulit tayo sa olympics.

    • Pang Tab

      Ethnic cleansing na tayo…..alisin na ang mga ayaw tanggalin ang chinese sa filipino nila….mga manguubos ng resources.

  • malek_abdul

    There’s always a first time…malay natin si Mark Anthony Barriga ang kauna-unahang Filipino na mag-uuwi ng Gintong Medalya? Nobody knows but Allah! Go-go-go Barriga!!!

  • PinoyDude

    Good luck Barriga! I hope you end the medal drought of the Philippines this time in London.

    It would have been great if Manny Pacquiao had direct involvement in the training of our Filipino boxers. I give Pacquiao the full benefit of the doubt. Hindi natin alam baka tumulong sya sa mga Filipino athletes–financial maybe? The so-called pound for pound king could have done more. Sayang talaga!

  • kypros

    how i longed for the phil. national anthem be played in the olympics. good luck filipino olympians give them all you got! let’s hear our national anthem in london!!

  • Blinkx

    Good luck to my former home country. I am still rooting for you guys because deep down you are my original home and I am still proud to be full pinoy. Cheers from New Zealand~!!

  • Edmund

    good luck Philippines!

  • Diepor

    Going to London to support our small team . Make us proud.

  • 4kingdaddy

    Good Luck, Mark Anthony Barriga!!!!!…..You are probably our only hope to win a medal!!!!  Regardless, we wish our contingent the best of luck!!!!

    Pahabol:  sana kung ang mga senadores at kongresista nagbigay man lang ng tig-iisang milyon, nakapagensayong maigi ang ating mga olympians….marami na namang mga senadores at kongresista ang tiyak na manonood ng olympics sa london….pagnanalo si barriga, tiyak marami ang maghihikayat sa kanya na mag propesyonal….i hope whoever becomes his manager and trainers would not take advantage of him……hindi ko lang alam, pero kung mababa ang pinag-aralan ni Barriga, baka onsehen lang s’ya…nawa’y hindi sana….amen….GO BARRIGA!!!!!!!…..

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