Twin wins put Yuka in Olympic gold conversation
Discussions surrounding the country’s gold-medal chase in the Tokyo Olympics consistently evolved around boxers Eumir Marcial and Nesthy Petecio as well as world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo.
It took just two tournaments in just about two weeks for golfer Yuka Saso to be part of that conversation.
“She’s a very big hope for an Olympic medal, especially for the gold,’’ said Philippine Olympic Committee president and Cavite Rep. Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino.
The 19-year-old Saso, who created history for the Philippines with two gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games, solidified her resume further by winning a pair of tournaments on the LPGA of Japan Tour recently.
Those twin victories saw Saso’s Olympic rankings skyrocket to No. 30 in the world, a giant leap from her previous spot of 46th.
“As far as I know, she’s technically [qualified] in [the Olympics]. All she needs to do is to keep on playing [and retain, or improve, her ranking],’’ Tolentino said.
The top 60 men and women golfers in the Olympic rankings will earn slots to the Tokyo Summer Games next year. Another Filipino golfer, Dottie Ardina, is currently No. 54 in the women’s Olympic ranking.
“Yuka is doing very well. I think this is our best chance to win a gold medal [in the Olympics] with several Filipino world-class athletes in our lineup,’’ said Mariano “Nonong’’ Araneta Jr., the Philippine chef de mission to the Tokyo Olympics.
Aside from Marcial, Petecio and Yulo, Araneta is likewise counting on pole vaulter EJ Obiena, 2016 Rio de Janeiro silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting and skateboarder Margielyn Didal to finally make the country’s gold-medal dream a reality.
“We really have to support our Olympic team with funding and prayers, so that our athletes will stay safe and healthy,’’ Araneta said.
According to Araneta, 82 athletes from 19 sports are vying for Olympic spots with 22 of them presently busy training overseas. INQ