PSC chief hopeful of more Olympic qualifiers

Published December 23, 2020, 3:18 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez believes the country can still produce more than 10 qualifiers to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics despite the challenges brought by the pandemic.

Ramirez’s assessment is based on the athletes’ performances over the last two years that include the 2018 Indonesia Asian Games and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games that the country has hosted.

The PSC has already identified 83 athletes from 19 sports that can produce more Olympic qualifiers that include athletics, boxing, swimming, taekwondo and weightlifting.

The agency is also not discounting sports like archery, 3×3 basketball, cycling, canoe kayak, fencing, golf, judo, karate, rowing, skateboarding, table tennis, triathlon and wrestling to produce qualifiers to Tokyo.

“If we can get at least 15 athletes marching for us in the Olympics, that will be a very good number,” Ramirez said.

Among those who have high chances of earning Olympic berths are 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, and fellow 2016 Rio Olympians Eric Cray of athletics, Jasmine Alkhaldi of swimming, Rogen Ladon of boxing, Miguel Tabuena of golf, Kirstie Elaine Alora of taekwondo, and Nestor Colonia of weightlifting.

Trackster Kristina Knott, golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan, world champion boxer Nesthy Petecio, 2018 Asian Games gold medalist Margie Didal of skateboarding, and 2018 Asian Games silver medalist Kiyomi Watanabe of judo are also being eyed to clinch Olympic spots.

Athletes are expected to cram for training as postponed qualifiers are expected to be rescheduled in the first half of 2021 in time for the 2021 Tokyo Games set July 23 to Aug. 8.

The country currently has four Olympic qualifiers in pole vaulter EJ Obiena, world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno.