PSC to focus shrunken budget on Olympic hopefuls
The Philippine Sports Commission begins the task of rationalizing a shrunken budget by discussing the Olympic projections of the Philippine Olympic Committee with Tokyo Games chef de mission Mariano “Nonong’’ Araneta Jr.
The plan is to focus dwindling finances on national athletes with the best chances of qualifying for the postponed Summer Games.
“The POC will know the athletes who have a high percentage of qualifying so we will consult them and move from there,’’ said PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez.
Four athletes—pole vaulter EJ Obiena, boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno and gymnast Carlos Yulo—already qualified for the Olympics, which was reset to July 23 next year.
On the fringes of qualifying are weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, boxer Nesthy Petecio, skateboarder Margielyn Didal and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe. For most in that group, qualifying seems a formality only.
Identifying the other athletes who possess bright chances of qualifying would guide the PSC on where to focus its resources after much of its funding was diverted to help the government in its battle against the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
POC president Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino has repeatedly expressed optimism that the Philippines could finally land its first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo and Fernandez readily agrees.
“We must never lose sight of our goal to give our best and win our first Olympic gold,’’ said Fernandez.
Over 60 athletes from 18 sports are still seeking to clinch Olympic berths. And since the qualifying meets have been moved next year, Tolentino believes the chances have become better for them to make it.
“It gives our athletes the luxury of time to improve themselves in preparation for their qualifying tournaments,’’ said Tolentino.
Among those who also have high hopes of punching Tokyo tickets are taekwondo jins Pauline Lopez, Elaine Alora and Samuel Morrison, track and field’s Kristina Knott and Willie Morrison and golfers Miguel Tabuena, Yuka Saso and Dottie Ardina.
Karatekas Jamie Lim and Junna Tsukii also have a fighting chance while swimmers Luke Gebbie, Remedy Rule and Jimmy Deiparine have been working doubly hard to improve their times to meet Olympic standards.