Ricky Vargas is confident that Filipino boxers can win medals in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
In his acceptance speech at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Awards Night held online Saturday, March 28, the boxing chief said earning podium finishes in the upcoming Summer Games would be their immediate target.
“It will not be easy, but we believe it is within reach,” said Vargas.
The PSA bestowed the National Sports Association of the Year Award to the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) for the second straight year, owing to its successful program highlighted by having four qualifiers to the Tokyo Olympics: Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam.
While Marcial and Magno earned berths through qualifiers last year, Petecio and Paalam booked tickets through their rankings after the remaining qualifying tournaments were canceled due to the pandemic.
Vargas hopes the trend of having more qualifiers since having one boxer in the 2012 London Olympics, two in the 2016 Rio to four in Tokyo would be a good sign in the future.
“So we have been doubling the number every Olympic year. Eight boxers in Paris in 2024? Like I said, we do have rather ambitious goals,” he said.
“We will continue to aim high for Philippine pride and glory.”
Meanwhile, Vargas said he shares the award on behalf of the people behind the association’s recent success.
“That we are receiving this award for the second consecutive year, is testament to the dedication, hard work and patriotism of our team. This includes our sports science group composed of our sports psychologist, nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach,” he said.
He also accepted the award on behalf of their technical officials, referees, judges, and people working in the association, as well as coaches and athletes particularly those serving at the frontlines during the pandemic.
Vargas also encouraged having “a positive environment to enable our athletes to focus on the job at hand” that would help them push themselves in achieving their Olympic goals.
The last time a boxer won an Olympic medal was in the 1996 Atlanta Games courtesy of a silver medal from Onyok Velasco.