PH athletes brace for hectic year

Published January 3, 2021, 2:20 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

As the sporting world slowly gets back on its feet after being crippled by the pandemic, national athletes are expected to have their hands full this year with a number of elite tournaments lined up.

At the center of the calendar would be the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which was reset from last year to July 23 to Aug. 8. So far, only four Filipinos in pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial have earned berths to the grandest sports event across the globe, but the Philippine Sports Commission is optimistic the number would increase following the rescheduled Olympic qualifiers.

The country is also bracing for the 31st Southeast Asian Games on Nov. 21 to Dec. 2 in Vietnam. The biennial meet is initially lined up with 40 sports, but more changes would take place over the course of preparations.

Read: Bambol readies for busy sports calendar next year

The national contingent will be coming into the meet as defending overall champions after reaping 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals in 56 sports.

The Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games slated May 31 to 30 in Thailand is also one of the tournaments that Filipino athletes are expected to compete in. Filipino athletes seek to eclipse their previous medal haul at the 2017 Turkmenistan edition of two golds courtesy of jiu jitsu fighters Meggie Ochoa and Annie Ramirez, as well as 14 silver and 14 bronze medals.

The Filipinos are also looking forward to the 4th Asian Youth Games in Indonesia on Nov. 20 to 28 and several Olympic qualifications.

Among those notable qualifications would be the world qualifier for boxing in Paris in June, where three to five Olympic slots depending on the weight division are at stake.

The Asian qualification for taekwondo will also be staged in a still undetermined date in Amman, Jordan. Two Olympic tickets per weight division are up for grabs.

The FIBA 3×3 Olympic qualifier is also reset to May in Austria.