Shifting focus to Olympics

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    AFTER the country’s success in the Southeast Asian Games, it’s time to focus on next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

    The Philippine Sports Commission is hoping Filipino athletes would carry over their energy, dedication, drive and focus to next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

    Marc Velasco, national training director of the Philippine Sports Institute, yesterday said the PSC has its sights now trained at the Olympics, with the bid for the SEA Games overall championship over and done with. The Philippines emerged overall champion of the biennial meet for the second time, winning 149 gold medals.

    “We firmly believe that we will be able to carry over ‘yung efforts and ‘yung energy ng ating mga athletes. We are still very high sa ating success, kaya we believe we might have a big contingent in Tokyo,” said Velasco, who represented Team Philippines chef de mission and Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez yesterday in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Amelie Hotel-Manila.

    “An Olympic medal is better than a SEA Games medal. So andun muna ‘yung energy, ‘yung focus ng PSC, to provide for the athletes to be able to qualify for the Olympics.”

    World gymnastic champion Carlos Yulo and pole vaulter EJ Obiena are the only two Filipino athletes whohave punched a ticket to the Tokyo Games, with several more knocking on the door, including Rio De Janeiro Games silver medal winner Hidilyn Diaz, judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, world boxing champion Nesthy Petecio, World Boxing Championship silver medalist Eumir Marcial, and a few more in athletics, swimming, fencing, golf, and taekwondo.

    Yulo and company are all gold medal winners in this year’s SEA Games, leading the way for the country to regain the overall title it last held in 2005.

    The Olympics wasn’t held until three years after the country’s breakthrough championship in 2005 but the success spilled over to the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar where the Philippine contingent won four gold, six silvers, and nine bronzes medals.

    “It’s a different scenario in 2005. We didn’t have an Olympic year after that,” added Velasco in the session presented by San Miguel Corp., Braska Restaurant, Amelie Hotel, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation. “So it’s a different environment then.