Barriga plots Olympic comebackBy Artemio T. Engracia
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LONDON—As he licked his wounds following his controversial loss in the round of 16 of the boxing competitions in the 30th Olympic Games here, Mark Anthony Barriga started plotting his Olympic comeback with the help of officials and supporters.
The future is waiting for him, boxing officials said. Foremost among them is Manny V. Pangilinan, the head of the PLDT-Smart conglomerate and chair of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (Abap).
The 19-year-old light flyweight “should be convinced that there’s still a bright future ahead of him,” Pangilinan said in a text message to Ed Picson, executive secretary of Abap who, along with coach Roel Velasco, had been a Barriga’s constant companion since they arrived in Great Britain more than a month ago.
Pangilinan said it was “unfortunate” that Barriga was derailed in his bid for an Olympic medal by what Filipino officials said was biased officiating by a Canadian referee.
“After a dark night, there is a bright morning,” Picson quoted Pangilinan’s message to Barriga.
Picson said Barriga, for as long as he doesn’t turn professional, will have two or three more Olympics ahead of him. He said Barriga had indicated that he would not turn pro.
“He’s a very good prospect. Give him another four years and he will be a very strong contender in the Olympics,” said Manny Lopez, chief of mission of the Philippine delegation here and former president of the Abap.
This early, Barriga has taken the first steps in his Olympic comeback. On Monday morning, he went to the Athletes Village polyclinic to see a dentist to get a new, personalized mouthguard.
That was a day after doctors cleared him of any fracture or serious injuries. He had gone to the doctors for X-Rays on his swollen right hand.
No fractures, the doctors said. Just some swollen tissues and bruises he sustained from the banging and slamming when his second round opponent, Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan, wrestled him throughout the fight and managed to eke a controversial and contested 17-16 victory on Saturday.
The doctors put a splint on Barriga’s right hand and the physiotherapist loosened up his muscles.
“He’s better now. Just a few bruises,” Picson said.
Barriga had been itching to go home since his loss on Saturday afternoon. His parents, Edgar and Melita, had returned to Panabo City in Davao del Norte after a week-long stay in London, courtesy of Procter and Gamble.
Picson said he had tried to get an earlier booking for Barriga’s return flight to Manila, but delegation officials had refused to allow him to go home. He will leave along with the rest of the delegation on Monday, a day after the closing ceremonies.
Barriga, a commerce sophomore who had to leave school to train for the Olympics, had been away from home most of the year.
Earlier this year, he eiher competed or trained in Thailand, Kazakhstan, Baguio, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro before leaving for Cardiff, Wales, on July 1 before proceeding to London.