Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino expects more Filipino athletes to qualify for the much-anticipated Tokyo Olympics.
Nine bets are set to compete in the July 23 to August 8 event but the long-time politician believes that the country will have more representatives than the 13 it had in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The latest to book his ticket to Japan is jin Kurt Barbosa, who earned a dramatic win over Zaid Al-Halawani in the 2021 Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament in Amman, Jordan over the weekend.
The UAAP Season 81 Rookie MVP joins weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz; boxers Eumir Marcial, Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio, and Irish Magno; pole-vaulter EJ Obiena; gymnast Caloy Yulo; and rower Carl Nievarez.
“Nagdadasal pa rin ako na umabot ng twenty but definitely, malalampasan na ‘yung thirteen,” he told the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum, Tuesday.
Among those seen to make it to Tokyo are led by Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan due to their respective Olympic Golf rankings in the International Golf Federation, since they are at no. 22 and no. 43, respectively.
The top 60 players in the world in men’s and women’s will qualify for the Games, which is just less than two months away.
Margielyn Didal could make it as well. Ranked 14th in the world, the decorated Cebuana is eyeing an outright berth through the Street World Championships 2021 in Rome, Italy from May 30 to June 6.
The local Olympic body is also expecting swimmers to reach the prestigious tilt through the Universality rule since four tankers — Jasmin Alkhaldi, Luke Gebbie, Remedy Rule, and James Deiparine — are in contention.
Tracksters Eric Cray and Kristina Knott are viewed to book their slots as well, as they continue their hunt for Olympic slots overseas.
“We have already nine. The two golfers will be announced as per ranking, so that’s eleven; plus two universality ng aquatics; and athletics,” Tolentino said. “And Margielyn Didal, tumuntong lang siya sa Italy, that’s it.”
Junna Tsukii is keen on representing Philippine karate in the biggest stage of them all, as evidenced by her huge victory earlier this May when she struck gold in the Karate Premier League in Lisbon, Portugal.
Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, meanwhile, only needs a few more ranking points before she formalizes her entry into the tilt.
Then there are the beach volleyball teams vying for an Olympic ticket next month during the AVC Continental Cup Final.
And ultimately, Gilas Pilipinas is looking to bring back Filipino hoops in the Olympic basketball scene after nearly half a century.
The program is looking to do so through the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Graz, Austria set this week, and also through the FIBA Men’s OQT in Belgrade, Serbia scheduled from June 29 to July 4.
“May karate, judo, basketball, 3×3, archery. Lalampas,” Tolentino told the session powered by SMART, has Upstream Media as its webcast partner, and presented by San Miguel Corp., MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and PAGCOR.
“Definitely lalampas na ng thirteen kasi ‘yung to be announced, lalampas na ng thirteen eh.”