As national athletes get jabs, hopes high for PH to finally nail elusive Olympic gold | Inquirer Sports
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As national athletes get jabs, hopes high for PH to finally nail elusive Olympic gold

/ 05:20 AM May 29, 2021
Tokyo Olympics-bound rower Cris Nievarez

Tokyo Olympics-bound rower Cris Nievarez. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Team Philippines’ Olympics target is the same as it has always been: Win at least one gold medal.Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino reiterated it as he said the country only needs “at least one gold” to surpass all its endeavors since 1924.

But the current batch of Olympians has given rise to the hope that Team Philippines will garner more than just a breakthrough gold in Tokyo.

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“We expect 15 athletes to qualify and maybe even more,” said Tolentino, who oversaw the mass vaccination of some 700 national athletes and coaches on Friday at Manila Prince Hotel.

Of those qualifiers, focus is largely on three athletes who have an Olympic gold within reach: Reigning world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxing star Eumir Felix Marcial and Rio de Janeiro Olympics silver medalist weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.

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Nine Filipino athletes have already qualified for the Olympics, including such dark horses as pole vaulter EJ Obiena, who had beaten reigning Olympic champion Thiago Braz in a tournament last year, and Nesthy Petecio, who once ruled her weight class in women’s boxing.

And even among the athletes still to qualify, there are quality bets that could make this batch of Olympians the most successful batch of Philippine delegates to the Summer Games—among them Asian champions Margielyn Didal of skateboard and golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan.

Rower Cris Nievarez was the only Olympian who was present during the special vaccination for Team Philippines, which was witnessed by Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.

The other Olympians are presently training abroad and are expected to get their jabs in the countries where they set up camp.

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TAGS: bambol tolentino, PH Tokyo 2020, Team Philippines, vaccination
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