Added weight slowly growing on Eumir Marcial
Eumir Marcial won’t be banging away in his comfort zone in the 19th Asian Games (Asiad) in Hangzhou, China, after his fighting weight was scrubbed off from the Asiad program.
But even as he feels that being forced to abandon the middleweight (75 kilograms) class is a disadvantage, Marcial is gradually coming to terms with the added poundage as he plots his path to next year’s Paris Olympics.
“The pace of my training has become more intense, but I’m getting better each day,’’ said Marcial, who is in a training camp with the Philippine boxing team at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, Australia.
The sturdiest Filipino boxer in his division has climbed to the light heavyweight category (80 kg), Marcial’s best alternative in a bid to finally seize the Olympic gold.
“I am presented with a new challenge because of my transition to a higher weight division. To be honest, it has strengthened my determination to win,’’ said Marcial after putting his professional career on hold for the Asian Games.
“I feel that I will become comfortable at 80 kg because that’s my walking weight, but I also expect stronger fighters in this weight class,’’ added Marcial.
The 27-year-old from Zamboanga City has been juggling his time with prizefighting where Marcial won all of his four climbs atop the professional ring and his stints with the national team, pocketing a bronze at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Marcial has said the Hangzhou Games, which will run from Sept. 23 to Oct. 8 and is a qualifier to the Paris Summer Games, is his last stab at Olympic glory.
“It’s now or never. I’m looking at this [Asian Games] as my last chance to qualify [to the Olympics] and continue pursuing that golden dream,’’ said Marcial.
Joining Marcial Down Under are Tokyo Olympic silver medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, both of whom are eyeing gold in Paris.
They are motivated by weightlifting’s Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo, the first Filipino to clinch a gold medal in the Olympics during the Tokyo Games.
After their Australian training, the boxing squad will stay in Manila for a week before heading to Hangzhou, which is seen as the easiest pathway to the glitzy French capital.
Two tickets to Paris are up for grabs in each of the weight classes in the men’s division during the Asiad while four are at stake per category in the women’s side.
Missing the continental opportunity in Hangzhou will force the Pinoy boxers to try their luck in a pair of world qualifiers next year where the road to the Olympics will be much more brutal.