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PH athletes face tough and busy year

The Philippines is looking at a tough yet achievable challenge this year following major breakthroughs in the international stage in 2023.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino hopes last year’s success will continue this year as athletes are expected to be busy with various elite tournaments particularly the 2024 Paris Olympics.

POC President Bambol Tolentino hopes the country will sustain its breakthrough performance in 2023 in what is expected to be a tough and busy 2024.

“This year will be tough for us. Paris is just around the corner,” Tolentino said in an interview with Radyo Pilipinas 2 early this week.

“And before we even get there, there are tough competitions for our athletes to qualify,” he added.

Four Filipinos have so far qualified for Paris — EJ Obiena, Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist boxer Eumir Felix Marcial and gymnasts Carlos Yulo and Aleah Finnegan.

With athletics and aquatics offering universality slots, the country is guaranteed with at least three more qualifiers. Tolentino said he’s looking to at least match the 19 athletes in Tokyo.

“It will be very good if we again have 19 Olympians, but if we don’t have those numbers, the focus will be on the podium. Hopefully, we haul more in Paris,” he said.

Paris marks the centennial of Philippine participation in the Olympics and Tolentino is praying to surpass Hidlyn Diaz-Naranjo’s weightlifting gold medal, Nesty Petecio and Carlo Paalam’s boxing silver and Marcial’s bronze at the Tokyo Games.

Meanwhile, Tolentino said he is content with the country’s overall performance last year.

“From a scale of 1 to 10, I give Filipino athletes a high mark of 8.5 to 9 for 2023,” he said.

“Yes, I’m very much contented—after breaking those records and bringing back the glory—all of those accomplishments were hard-earned, both by the athlete and their coaches and the stakeholders,” he added.

Obiena, the first Filipino to qualify for Paris, shone brightest in 2023 with his record-breaking performances at the Hangzhou Asian Games and Cambodia Southeast Asian Games and a historic men’s pole vault silver at the world championships.

The national men’s basketball team also ranked high on Tolentino’s list following Gilas Pilipinas’s gold medal in Hangzhou, the first for the country since the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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