Philippines’ chief of mission to the Tokyo Games Nonong Araneta believes the present batch of Olympic qualifiers and hopefuls have the strongest chance of winning Olympic medals.
Araneta cited the presence of having three world champions in gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxers Eumir Marcial and Nesthy Petecio, as well as the recent achievements of pole vaulter EJ Obiena and golfer Yuka Saso.
“Just the fact that we have three world champions… makikita naman talagang this is the best chance for us,” said Araneta in Tuesday’s virtual Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
Yulo and Marcial, who earned their feats last year, are already qualified to the Games while Petecio will be vying for a berth at the world championships in Paris, France next year.
So far, the country has four Olympic qualifiers in Yulo, Obiena and boxers Marcial and Irish Magno.
Araneta also cited Obiena’s recent bronze-medal feat at the star-studded World Diamond League in Monaco last month, as well as Saso’s back-to-back titles at the Japan LPGA that propelled her from No. 117 to No. 76 in the world rankings this week.
The top 60 golfers in the world will earn berths to the Olympics.
Araneta also mentioned 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, skateboarder Margielyn Diadal and golfer Dottie Ardina.
“We just really have to support them,” he said.
So far, Araneta has been discussing to different national sports association leaders their safety protocols for the training resumption of their Olympic hopefuls.
Araneta said they have already identified 82 athletes who have the highest potential to earn Olympic berths – 19 are training abroad and 63 locally.