PSC touches base with Tokyo Olympics-bound Filipino athletes

THE PHILIPPINE SPORTS COMMISSION late last week touched base with Filipino athletes who have already qualified for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. — PSC

THE Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) late last week touched base with Filipino athletes who have already qualified for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

In an informal online meet-up on Friday, the PSC, led by its Chairman William Ramirez, talked to Olympic-bound Ernest John Obiena (pole-vault), Carlos Yulo (gymnastics), Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno (boxing) to know their current state and where they are in their preparation as well as get their input on how the sports body can still help them in their push, especially amid prevailing conditions with the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is nothing formal. We would just like to get in touch and see how you are doing. I’m happy that all of you are alright and well,” Mr. Ramire told the athletes during the online session.

Mr. Ramirez was joined in the meeting by PSC Commissioners Arnold Agustin, Ramon Fernandez, Celia Kiram and Charles Maxey, officials Merly Ibay and Queenie Evangelista, and Philippine Sports Institute National Training Director Marc Velasco.

Also present were Tokyo Olympics Chef de Mission Mariano Araneta and Philippine Olympic Committee Secretary-General Atty. Ed Gastanes.

During the session, the athletes shared what they have been busy with.

Mr. Obiena, who is in Italy and coming off a good run in his pole vault season despite the pandemic, said he is in the process of getting back into shape after gaining some weight.

Mr. Yulo also related challenges in maintaining his weight, but was happy to report that he is back in good form.

The two were the first to qualify for the rescheduled Olympics, booking a spot last year.

Boxers Marcial and Magno, meanwhile, said they are also trying to stay in shape despite the eliminations brought by the pandemic.

Mr. Marcial was set to leave on Sunday for Los Angeles where he is set to begin his training as a professional after signing up with MP Promotions.

He is looking at it as an opportunity to further hone his skills in preparation for the Olympics.

Ms. Magno, for her part, is in her hometown of Janiuay, Iloilo, and is regularly training online.

All four PSC commissioners expressed their support to the four qualifiers, with Mr. Fernandez touting the athletes’ chances of winning the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal.

Mr. Araneta thanked the athletes for being “a unifying force” in the country while Mr. Gastanes also showed his appreciation for them for their sacrifices and echoed the hope of everyone for a successful Olympic campaign.

The PSC reaffirmed its commitment to find ways to support the athletes in their Tokyo push as well as to those still trying to qualify, despite the many challenges.

It was a gesture of support that the athletes appreciated.

Apart from funding allowances for the athletes’ training, the sports agency bared that it is working to have locally based athletes start training for their qualification for the Games either in November or December.

The PSC said it is looking at setting up a training “bubble” at the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna or on Corregidor Island.

It is currently assessing its options and crafting ways on how to go about it.

Mr. Ramirez ended the online session by urging the Olympic-bound athletes to continue working and taking care of their health even as he promised of more meetings with them in the future. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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