Manila, Philippines, October 29, 2019: The country’s top sports officials are hoping to have a 20-strong squad of athletes at Tokyo 2020 after some recent outstanding performances, reports Inquirer.net
“The signs are really encouraging. I won’t be surprised if we will have more Olympic qualifiers in Tokyo,” said Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
Just three weeks ago, Pinoy athletes shone on the world stage with gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo earning the distinction as the first Filipino world champion and Nesthy Petecio duplicating Yulo’s achievement in women’s boxing.
“This is a good sign that gives us more hope to finally capture the elusive Olympic gold medal,” said Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Butch Ramirez.
For almost a century, since the Philippines began competing in the Summer Games, no Filipino has ever brought home a gold medal.
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz managed to snatch a silver medal in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, ending a 20-year medal drought after boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco seized a similar medal colour in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Yulo, whose gold medal came in the floor exercise at the FIG World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, earned the trip to Tokyo and joined pole vaulter EJ Obiena as the first two Filipino qualifiers in the Olympics.
Diaz is expected to suit up in her fourth straight Olympics together with 18th Asian Games champion Margielyn Didal of skateboarding and Kiyomi Watanabe of judo.
Also vying for Olympic spots are Petecio and fellow boxer Eumir Marcial, who pocketed a silver medal in the recent AIBA world championships, as well as golfer Yuka Saso – a double gold medal-winner at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018 in women’s individual strokeplay and team.
“We are looking at around 20 qualifiers. If we can come up with that number, that will be the biggest delegation that our country will ever have in the Olympics,” said Tolentino.
Ramirez added: “The PSC is throwing its all-out support in our Olympic quest. We are not only hoping and praying we are expecting that our athletes will deliver.”