'Our time, our year': Team PH to begin quest for elusive Olympic gold | Inquirer Sports
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‘Our time, our year’: Team PH to begin quest for elusive Olympic gold

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 05:03 PM July 21, 2021
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz with boxers Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial inside the Olympic Village in Tokyo

FILE – Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz with boxers Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial inside the Olympic Village in Tokyo. HIDILYN DIAZ INSTAGRAM

MANILA, Philippines — Clearly the finest squad the country has ever assembled to the grandest stage in all sports, Team Philippines will face the world’s best in the Tokyo Olympics with great expectations of unparalleled success.

“This is indeed a testament of strength, determination and solidarity you have forged throughout your journey,” President Rodrigo Duterte told the athletes during the Laban Para Sa Inang Bayan digital athletes’ sendoff to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics 2020+1 on Wednesday.

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“Be assured that the entire nation rallies behind you as you make us proud and show to the world the fighting spirit of the Filipino athlete,” added Duterte.

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CELEBRATION OF CHAMPIONS!

Let us send-off Team Philippines to the Tokyo Olympics with our prayers and wishes of goodluck. Show support! Let us watch this virtual send-off together and celebrate our champions!#TeamPhilippinesInTokyo#AtletangPilipino#IAmSportsPositive#parasainangbayan

Posted by PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) on Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Gymnast Carlos Yulo, golfer Yuka Saso, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, boxers Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial, skateboarder Margielyn Didal and Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting head the 19-athlete Philippine contingent to the quadrennial Games set to unfold Friday.

“This is our time, this is our year. With the all-out support of the national government, I’m positive that you will give your all for flag and country,” said Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez.

“This is a chance to show the global arena what Filipino athletes are made of despite all the challenges. I urge all of you to remember all things as you compete in Tokyo and use it to ignite the passion and drive to deliver your best performance,” added Ramirez.

The Philippines has never brought home a gold medal from the showpiece gathering of global sports talents since sending athletes to the 1924 Paris Olympics and this group is well-augured to end that agonizingly long wait.

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“One final battle cry before we go and test our guts in the most important sports event in the world. It’s a battle cry that we should believe in ourselves. This is the best team that we have assembled. We will win that gold (medal) as one,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president and Rep. Abraham Tolentino.

Filipino sports heroes Roel Velasco of boxing, track and field’s Elma Muros-Posadas, swimming’s Akiko Thomson-Guevara, bowlers Paeng Nepomuceno and Bong Coo and chess grandmaster Eugene Torre blurted out inspiring words to the athletes in Tokyo to finally seize the ultimate prize.

Para athletes Ernie Gawilan and Gary Bejino of swimming, track and field’s Jerrold Mangliwan and Janette Acevedo, taewondo’s Allain Ganapin and powerlifter Achele Guion will see action in the Tokyo Paralympics on Aug. 24-Sept 5.

“Despite the situation the world is facing today, we continue to strive for greatness to achieve excellence in sports and bring honor to our country. May your sacrifices and hardships be rewarded with a title finish and a gold medal,” said Sen. Bong Go, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports.

Taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, golfers Bianca Pagdanganan and Juvic Pagunsan, judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, lifter Elreen Ando, boxers Carlo Paalam and Irish Magno could also contribute to the nation’s medal outlook.

Rower Cris Nievarez, sprinter Kristina Knott and swimmers Luke Gebbie and Remedy Rule are likewise anticipated to give everything they have trained for since the Olympics was postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

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