Philippines bets hope for good draw

TOKYO – Fourteen Filipino athletes have entered the Athletes Village, with four boxers hoping for some luck in the quirks of the draw today to find an easier path in pursuit of Olympic glory.

But even if they don’t find any, they’re just raring to plunge into action and seize the moment in this chance of a lifetime to compete with the best of the best.

“Yes, we’re hoping for a good draw but we’ve told the coaches and boxers to be prepared for whatever is put in front of them. We’re optimistic that preparations were sufficient for our boxers to do well,” said Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) secretary-general Ed Picson.

Meanwhile, Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino has also arrived in this Japanese capital now in hard lockdown, himself hopeful not just of a golden breakthrough but a multi-medal showing from the 19-strong Philippine cast.

To this date, Team Philippines has never won more than one medal in an Olympic edition since high jumper Simeon Toribio, boxer Jose Villanueva and swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso snared bronzes in the 1932 Los Angeles Games.

“Yes, multi-medal na ‘yan. Ganado ang mga atleta natin. Eighteen out of 19 are first-timers with one veteran of world championship caliber. Malakas talaga,” said Tolentino.

Eumir Marcial is among the strongest bets. And as among the seeded fighters in the middleweight class, tipped by the Associated Press to win the gold, the Zamboanga City native will be pitted versus a lower-ranked foe in the first round of boxing competition at the Kobungkan Arena.

Also to be known during the team managers’ meeting today are the opening-round assignments of men’s flyweight Carlo Paalam, women’s featherweight Nesthy Petecio and women’s flyweight Irish Magno.

All four boxers are determined to punch their way to the zenith of Olympic glory, with Paalam, Petecio and Magno toughened up by a four-month training in Thailand and Marcial primed up by his buildup with the US Olympic team at the Olympic Boxing Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Marcial was the latest to check into their quarters at the Olympic Village, and he’s also pumped up by the honor granted him to be the male flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies tomorrow. He subbed for original nominee EJ Obiena as necessitated by the protocols.

Rowing draw was held yesterday, and the Philippines’ Cris Nievarez has found himself to tangle with rowers from Croatia, Benin, Nicaragua and Russia in Heat 5 at 9:10 a.m. tomorrow at the placid Sea Forest Waterway.

The men’s single sculls drew 32 participants, divided into six groups.

Nievarez, the lead Philippine competitor in the Games, sees no easy grouping in his discipline. Only the top finisher from each group automatically advances to the semifinals, and the rest are to slug it out in the repechages with the top two from each heat advancing.

“For rowing to send a Philippine Olympian to the Olympics after 20 long years is a feat,” said rowing president Patrick Gregorio, lauding Nievarez for making the Tokyo Games.

“Cris is a promising young man – his journey starts in Tokyo. Long way to go; this is a competition that will only make him better,” said Gregorio of his 21-year-old bet facing rowing giants.

Date: July 22, 2021 | By: Nelson Beltran | Newspaper: Philippine Star | Source: