Philippines upbeat on ending Olympic gold drought in Tokyo 2021
Joey Villar (Philstar.com) – December 11, 2020 – 3:10pm
MANILA, Philippines – Will the country end its long search for the elusive Olympic gold medal in Tokyo next year?
The Philippine Sports Commission thinks so.
In fact, the government sports-funding agency on Friday released its ambitious two-page plan for 2021 that included snaring, not just one, but two gold in the quadrennial summer games.
“We have a big chance because we have so many who have potential,” said PSC chairman William Ramirez in Friday’s virtual presser.
Ramirez mentioned 2016 Rio weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz and world champion gymnast Caloy Yulo as among the country’s best bets for the country’s very first Olympic mint.
“I don’t really have a scientific basis just like the rich countries who have money and strong sports programs but Hidilyn Diaz has proven that she can and Caloy proved it,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez said he has high hopes that more will earn Tokyo berths and join Yulo, boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno and pole vaulter EJ Obiena there.
Diaz, who has been training in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia since last March, has yet to officially qualify but she is expected to do so.
Also with realistic chances of making the Tokyo cut are 2019 women’s world champion Nesthy Petecio, judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, karatekas Junna Tsukii and Jamie Lim and taekwondo jins Pauline Lopez and 2016 Olympian Kirstie Elaine Alora.
“We have 20-25 athletes who are hoping to qualify and we’re funding them,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez mentioned the winning trend under the Duterte administration as good signs that the country would finally strike gold in Tokyo.
He was referring to the silver of Diaz in 2016, the four gold in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, world titles by Yulo and Petecio and the overall championship in the Southeast Asian Games the country hosted all in last year.
“Rich countries can predict because they have a scientific way to know. We don’t have that except prayers and the hope of the Filipinos and the whole country,” said Ramirez.