IOC waives residency, giving Kayla Sanchez green light to chase Paris medal
The wait is over for Kayla Sanchez. And for Philippine sports.
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) announced that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has waived the three-year residency on Sanchez’s nationality switch, paving the way for the former Canadian standout to take aim at the Paris Olympics.
“This is good news for Philippine swimming. We won’t have to wait two more years for her to [be eligible to] represent our country in the Olympics,’’ said POC president Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino.
The go-signal also frees Sanchez to compete in high-caliber foreign meets, meaning she could get more preparation time for her Olympic bid than she did when she represented the country in the Asian Games (Asiad) in China earlier this year. Despite her lack of competitions for over a year, Sanchez nearly reached the podium in two individual final appearances at the Asian Games, erasing national records along the way.
Tolentino traveled all the way to the Canadian Olympic Team headquarters in Toronto and received the IOC assurance that Sanchez could not gun for a Paris berth.
Before getting the IOC green light, Sanchez got the approval from international swimming federation World Aquatics to switch nationalities, allowing her to compete in the Asiad two months ago.
Out of four individual events she joined in China, the 22-year-old ace, whose parents were born in the Philippines but migrated to Canada, qualified in the finals of the women’s individual 50m backstroke and 100m freestyle.
12 relay medals
“She’s one of our medal prospects in the Olympics. We are glad that she will finally represent us in Paris,’’ said Tolentino, who wrote the IOC on Nov. 8 requesting the latter to waive the three-year residency rule athletes who switch nationalities are required to go through.
Sanchez’s mom Susana is from Baguio City while her father Noel is from Mabalacat, Pampanga. Sanchez caught the attention of Philippine swim officials when she helped Team Canada claim a silver medal in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay and a bronze in the 4x100m medley relay in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
According to Tolentino, Sanchez could make it to Paris through individual qualification or relay qualification.
“The IOC Executive Board decided to consent to your request for exemption from the three-year waiting period and thus confirm the eligibility of Ms. Kayla Sanchez to represent the Philippines at the Olympic Games Paris 2024, subject to qualification,’’ the IOC wrote to Tolentino.
Sanchez delivered a combined 12 relay medals from the world championships and the Olympics for Team Canada.