Dormitorio raring to resume Olympic qualifying drive

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    LIKE a thoroughbred chomping at the bit, three-time national women’s mountain bike champion Ariana Dormitorio is ready and raring to race and resume her Olympic qualifying campaign.

    “It’s practically more than a year since my last competition so I am looking forward to racing again. After all, that is what we train for,” said Dormitorio, 24, who last saw action in the Hero cross-country cycling marathon in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in February 2019.

    Since then, the petite and pretty cyclist has not been out of the country, content on keeping in competitive shape by training from Tuesday to Sunday under her father-coach Donjie Dormitorio in the surrounding areas near their house in Quezon City.

    “Usually, we train in San Mateo, Rizal or somewhere in Bulacan and in Fairview as well,” said Dormitorio, who rose to prominence when she bagged the under-23 gold medal in the Asian Cycling Championships in 2018.

    Despite the delays in her Olympic qualifying efforts, the diminutive rider remained upbeat because “cycling is a passion for me.  I don’t consider this work but fun. This is my motivation to keep me going.”

    She is awaiting word from PhilCycling, the national sport association for the sport led by Philippine Olympic Committee President and Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, as to her next overseas stints. She has been notified informally this might be two forthcoming UCI World Cup events in Europe.

    “I was told by someone at PhilCycling that I might be sent to compete in the UCI World Cup races in Albstadt, Germany and in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic,” Dormitorio said.

    Both competitions organized by the Union Cycliste International, the world cycling body popularly known by its French acronym UCI, have Olympic ranking qualifying points at stake and are slated May 8-9 and May 15-16, respectively.

    Dormitorio said she needs to maintain her present No. 3 ranking in the Asian Olympic qualifying ratings to earn her ticket to the Tokyo Olympics.

    “Since Japan is already assured of a spot, I have to keep track of the performances of the Chinese and Iranian cyclists who are above me in the Asian ratings right now,” she said.

    She said she had moved on from her heartbreaking outing in the 30th Southeast Asian Games two years ago when she led comfortably in the last lap of the women’s cross country event in Tagaytay City only to crash out due to bad spill.

    “I learned my lessons from that experience not to be discouraged. It opened a lot of opportunities and realizations for me,” said Dormitorio, admitting the pressure of being the top favorite in the event had gotten to her.

    She vowed to be mentally and emotionally tougher if given the chance to ride for the national team again in the 3st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi in November.

    “Definitely, I will be a better rider mentally and emotionally,” said Dormitorio. “I intend to run my race, enjoy myself and hold my head high given the chance to race for the country again in the Vietnam SEA Games. Winning the gold would be the cherry on top.”