Tolentino: Time to focus on Asiad, next SEA Games

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    ALTHOUGH the Tokyo Olympic Games is just over four months away, Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Bambol Tolentino said it’s time for the country to focus on its preparations for the 2021 Southeast Asian Games and 2022 Asian Games.

    “Some of our athletes are still bidding to qualify for the Olympics but those are just few; it’s time to focus our attention in preparing for the 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam as well as the 2022 Asian Games in China,” Tolentino said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Awards Night at the Manila Hotel last Friday.

    The Philippines is coming off splendid showings in both games, with Pinoy campaigners garnering four gold, two silver and 15 bronze medals in one their best performances in the Asian continental sports showcase in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia two years ago.

    Then last December, Team Philippines regained the Southeast Asian Games crown on home grounds with a remarkable haul of 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals in the 30th edition of the biennial regional meet.

    Tolentino said that while defending the overall championship would be tough when the Vietnamese host the next SEA Games, “we would not like to slip so far down the standings similar to what happened after we won the (overall crown) in 2005.

    “We should also start our build-up for the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.”

    Tolentino also expressed confidence that despite the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus disease that began in China, the Olympics Games would push through in the Japanese capital in July.

    “There has been no postponement in the history of the Olympics. Either you cancel it or push through with it,” the POC chief noted. “If I recall right, it was cancelled thrice: the first in 1916 when Berlin was supposed to be the host because of the first World War and in 1940 (Helsinki) and 1944 (London) because of the second World War.”

    Citing the fact that the disease doesn’t thrive in warm weather “pag-dating ng summer in July sa Japan baka malusaw na ito and we will have the Olympics,” Tolentino said.

    He said it would be lamentable in the event the Olympics is scrapped “because I believe this is best opportunity that we have in finally winning a gold medal.”

    Tolentino cited the likes of world gymnastics champion Carlos Edriel Yulo and Rio Olympic Games silver medalist Hidylin Diaz, still in the midst of her Olympic qualifying campaign, who could break the drought.

    Also in the running for gold is Asian Games women’s street skateboard champion Margielyn Arda Didal, who is expected to make the cut and be among the Pinoy athletes vying in Tokyo, according to Tolentino.

    Since the Philippines made its Olympic debut in the 1924 edition in Paris, France, national standard-bearers could only muster a grand total of three silver medals, two of them from boxing, as well as seven bronze medals.