PH shooters target Paris Olympics, elusive Asian Games podium
HANGZHOU, China—While a medal in the 19th Asian Games could stand out as a highlight in their resume, the country’s sharpshooters won’t veer away from the ultimate dream of boarding a flight next year to the Paris Olympics.
Olympians Jayson Valdez, Paul Bryan Rosario and Eric Ang will keep their eye on the prize as the Philippine national shooting team seeks to end its dearth of medals in the continental scene.
“I’ll perform the best way I can here. It should also help me prepare for the (Olympic) qualification tournaments ahead,” said Valdez, who brought home a bronze medal from the Asian Cup in Jakarta early this year.
The Tokyo Olympian and two-time Asian Gamer is entered in the men’s 10m air rifle, 50m rifle 3 positions and air rifle mixed team.
Rosario will join Valdez in the podium race in the three rifle events while Ang, a 2008 Beijing Olympian, has been lined up in the men’s individual trap and team event.
“I stopped for six years. We’ll see,” Rosario, who saw action in the 2012 London Olympics.
After the Asian Games, they are bound to come out firing in at least five more Olympic qualifiers prior to Paris, beginning with the Asian championships in South Korea next month.
From there, four more qualification tourneys have been booked for them to clinch a quota place in the Olympics.
“We’re hopeful and we’re pushing. As we get closer to the Olympics, getting the quota becomes easier because all of the other shooters have already secured the quota,” said Philippine National Shooting Association secretary general Iryne Garcia.
“So even if these shooters (who already qualified) do win in the next games, they don’t get the quota anymore. It will be given to the next highest-ranked shooter,” added Garcia.
The bulk of the 10-man shooting squad arrived Friday afternoon at the Athletes Village here. Part of the team are veterans Amparo Teresa Acuna, Hagen Topacio, Joaquin Miguel Ancheta, Franchette Shayne Quiroz, rookie Enrique Enriquez, Carlos Carag and Elvie Baldivino.
“This is the crème de la crème of Philippine shooting, so we’re expecting to give it a little push. This is not a qualifier to the Olympics, but for Asian rankings, yes,” said Garcia.
Philippine shooting hasn’t seen an Asian Games medal since Jethro Dionisio took a bronze in the men’s individual trap during the 2002 edition in Busan and another third-place finish in the team trap with Ang.
A gold medal from the Asiad was even harder to find since Adolfo Feliciano (men’s small bore rifle 3 positions) and Martin Gison (men’s air rifle open) won in the 1958 Tokyo Games.