By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
WHILE recognizing that Filipino athletes have their work cut out for them in next year’s Olympic Games, still Philippine chief of mission Mariano Araneta believes the country has a good chance of doing well in the quadrennial sporting meet as it will be represented by athletes that have it in them to make things happen.
Speaking on Tuesday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum, Mr. Araneta shared that Filipino athletes who have already qualified for the Summer Games in Tokyo in 2021 and those still angling to land a spot in it have a realistic shot at producing medals, even possibly that elusive first-ever gold, for the country .
The chief of mission mentioned already-qualified Carlos Yulo (gymnastics), boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno and pole-vaulter EJ Obiena as capable of delivering.
And so do hopefuls Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting), Nesthy Petecio (boxing), Yuka Saso and Dottie Ardina (golf), and Margielyn Didal (skateboarding).
“We have world champions and I think this is the best chance for us,” said Mr. Araneta, who is also the president of the Philippine Football Federation.
He went on to say that support in every possible way to said athletes is very important to give their Olympic push a boost, something they are trying hard to provide despite the many challenges presented by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In a recent release, the Philippine Sports Commission shared that it has already disbursed at least P350 million for top Olympic bets to date.
Meanwhile, the country’s Olympic bets could be back to their regular training as sports officials are now studying and readying the protocols to be used for a return, said Mr. Araneta.
“We’re looking at resuming training, hopefully by next week for those still vying for a spot in the Olympics,” he said.
Mr. Araneta said they are coordinating with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) for the possible use of the PhilSports Complex in Pasig City as venue.
The PhilSports Complex is one of the venues being used by the government as a quarantine site for people with coronavirus cases.
In the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil, the Philippines sent 13 athletes with Ms. Diaz winning a silver medal.