With Team Pilipinas’ contingent for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics increasing at a weekly rate, Philippine Olympic Committee first vice president Al Panlilio expects a gold come the Games.
More than that — the sportsman is hoping for a gold rush.
“Sana at least one. If we can have more than one that would be great.”
Already qualified for the games are weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz; boxing flyweight Carlo Paalam, middleweight Eumir Marcial, flyweight Irish Magno, and featherweight Nesthy Petecio; gymnast Caloy Yulo; pole vaulter EJ Obiena; taekwondo finweight Karl Barbosa; rower Cris Nievarez; and skateboarder Margie Didal.
But then there are more expected.
Yuka Saso is a shoo-in to join Team Pilipinas, while Juvic Pagunsan and Bianca Pagdanganan are hoping they can get in as well. There are also the judokas, the swimmers, the tracksters, and the karatekas vying for slots as well, either by hitting Olympic marks or through OQTs.
For Panlilio, there are a lot of favorites to nab the country’s first-ever gold in the global meet.
“We have great potential in Caloy Yulo; Hidilyn was almost there in Rio. Yuka won the US Open just recently, and she also trains in Japan. It’s her backyard,” quipped the treasurer of the National Golf Association of the Philippines during the MVP Group’s press conference on becoming the official Philippine partners of the Tokyo Games. “We also have the boxers and Kurt.
“Can we just aim for one? Sana more. I think everybody has a chance.”
The newly-elected chairman of PLDT, who is also the head of the MVP Sports Foundation, knows how hard the Filipino athletes have trained for the quadrennial meet as 2020 ended up being a gap year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
And he hopes that the sacrifices made by the athletes end up in gold.
“Obviously it’s been tough for the athletes, you have to prime up to the peak of your abilities at a certain time when the actual competition happens. Now na-defer ‘yung Olympics, from four-year cycle it became a five-year cycle,” he said.
“It’s very difficult for them to peak at the right moment, but our athletes are very committed on performing, especially with the flag on their chest and representing the country.”