With Kayla Noelle Sanchez ready to go, PH swimming offers a lot of promise
PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA—Philippine swimming chalked up a marked improvement this year in Cambodia, and after the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games ends here in a few days, the sport is expected to deliver more medals in events of bigger magnitude starting with the Asian Games in September where the country’s prized tanker could debut.
Kayla Noelle Sanchez, born to Filipino parents in Canada, is being lined up to finally swim for the Philippines in Hangzhou, China, with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) working on that as well as a stint in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“Hopefully, she can compete [for the Philippines] in the Asian Games,” POC president Bambol Tolentino said, a day after swimming, which his agency takes care of, won two gold medals, six silvers and eight bronzes. “We will also work it out for her to be with us in the (2024 Paris) Olympics.’’
The POC has been tasked to handle swimming’s affairs because of an internal strife that had the Philippine Swimming Inc. being suspended by World Aquatics, the world governing body of the sport which also ordered an election of a fresh set of PH officials in July.
The Asian Games in the Chinese province is scheduled on Sept. 23 to Oct. 8 where the 22-year-old Sanchez, who captured a silver and bronze in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics under the Canadian flag, can become a steady source of gold medals.
Born to Susana and Noel from Mabalacat, Pampanga province, Sanchez got a silver medal with the Canadian 4×100-meter (m) freestyle squad in Tokyo, Japan, and a bronze in the 4×100-m medley.
For the 2024 Paris Olympics, Sanchez is entering the second year of a three-year residency after she agreed to swim under the Philippine flag, but could be shortened with the help of World Aquatics, the International Olympic Committee and the POC.
“We’re looking forward to it. We’ll do everything we can to make it happen,’’ said Tolentino.
Sanchez could quench the country’s thirst for an Olympic medal in the 50-m free with her personal best time of 24.68 seconds when she captured the gold medal in the Olympic trials in Canada prior to Tokyo. It’s just a split-second slower than the bronze medal won by Denmark’s Pernille Blume (24.21).
No Filipino tanker has stepped on the medal podium of the Olympics since Teofilo Yldefonso claimed a pair of bronze medals in the 1928 Amsterdam and 1932 Los Angeles Games.
Sanchez is likewise a top competitor for the gold in the Asian Games in three events (50-m, 100-m, 200-m freestyle) and a possible record breaker in six existing SEA Games records (50-m, 100-m, 200-m free, 50-m and 100-m backstroke, and 200-m individual medley).