Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez is upbeat of the country’s chances of winning the elusive first Olympic gold medal in the 2021 Tokyo Games.
In his column posted on the government sports agency’s Facebook page, Ramirez commended the efforts of national athletes, particularly those who earned berths to the Summer Games amid challenges brought by the pandemic.
So far, the country has seven Olympic-bound athletes in boxers Eumir Marcial, Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno and Carlo Paalam, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.
“It is now, more than ever, that the collective hope of the Filipino people of finally quenching that Olympic-gold thirst will come,” Ramirez wrote.
“This is not to say that this batch is better than past delegations, or that their dream glows brighter than the others. This is to acknowledge the extraordinary times these athletes find themselves in—delayed, locked-down and limited in a pandemic—yet determined and continuing to trounce every challenge that comes their way along their journey to the greatest sports spectacle on earth.”
His latest statements also extended to athletes competing and winning medals in the ongoing Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where 17-year-old Vanessa Sarno debuted with two golds and one silver medal, and 22-year-old Elreen Ando winning two silver and one bronze, among others.
Ramirez is also confident more athletes will still qualify to the Games, citing athletes from five sports that include judokas Kiyomi Watanabe and Shugen Nakano; golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan; karatekas Joane Orbon, Jamie Lim and Junna Tsukii; taekwondo jins Pauline Lopez, Elaine Alora, Kurt Barbosa and Arven Alcantara; and skateboarder Margie Didal.
He also mentioned sports like swimming, athletics, triathlon, archery, rowing, fencing, BMX, 3×3 basketball and mountain bike that can produce Olympic qualifiers.
“We have many others with the same heart, the same spirit still trying to qualify for an Olympic ticket,” Ramirez said.
Despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, Ramirez said they will continue supporting the athletes in their endeavor and wished all athletes good health and luck as they keep on inspiring fellow Filipinos in these trying times.