PH athletes gear up, eye Tokyo Olympics berths
With the Tokyo Olympics fast approaching, Filipino athletes from various sports are reaching peak form as they scramble for Olympic berths before the window of opportunity to play on the grandest stage in sports closes.
Several Olympic wannabes from wrestling, skateboarding, cycling, surfing, 3×3 basketball, taekwondo, triathlon, karatedo and archery have engaged themselves in a final push that would determine their inclusion into the Team Philippine delegation.
“We have provided the support that our athletes need. They have limited training exposures due to the ongoing health crisis, but we have to make do with what we have,” said Philippine Sports Institute national training director Marc Edward Velasco.
Wrestlers Alvin Lobrequito, Noel Norada, Jason Baucas and Jiah Pingot are bound for Sofia, Bulgaria on May 6-9 in an effort to try their luck in the World Wrestling Olympic Qualification Tournament where the finalists in each weight category secure those spots to Tokyo.
Triathlete Kim Mangrobang will participate in the World Triathlon Cup in Lisbon, Portugal on May 22 as the two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist pursues her Olympic dream with three to four more races after that.
Cyclist Patrick Coo is eyeing the same trip to the Japanese capital when the US-based BMX racer enlists himself in the BMX World Cup in Bogota, Colombia on May 26-30, Coo’s ultimate chance to make it.
Gilas Pilipinas 3×3, headed by Joshua Munzon and Alvin Pasaol, is bidding to join the PH Olympic squad along with CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa through the Fiba 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Graz, Austria on May 26-30.
“I’m pretty sure more athletes will be added to the seven who already qualified,” said Velasco, also the chief of staff in the office of Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez.
Rowers Melcah Jen Caballero, Joanie Delgaco, Criz Nievarez, Roque Abala Jr. and Zuriel Sumintac have arrived in Tokyo on Saturday, prepping up themselves for the 2021 World Rowing Asian and Oceania Olympic Qualification Regatta on May 5-7.
Skateboarders Margielyn Didal and Kiko Francisco are now in California in time for the May 17-23 Iowa Dew Tour in Des Moines on May 17-23 before traveling to Rome, Italy for the world championships on May 30-June 6.
The national archery and karatedo teams are likewise preparing for their final qualifiers in Paris, France with the archers scheduled to play on June 18-21 while the karatekas fight on June 11-13.
Pinoy surfers are hoping to get on that airplane to Tokyo through the ISA World Surfing Games on May 29-June 6 in El Salvador.
Golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan, who are well within the top 40 of the Olympic golf rankings, are awaiting the official word for their inclusion as well as judoka Kiyomi Watanabe.
Tracksters Eric Cray and Kristina Knott, together with swimmers James Deiparine, Luke Gebbie, Remedy Rule and Jasmine Alkhaldi, are likewise vying for Olympic spots to join pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.
Other Pinoy Olympic qualifiers are world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxers Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam.