MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has a strong chance of winning not just one or two medals in the Tokyo Olympics but more.
“We’re really hoping for a multiple-medal performance by our athletes in the Olympics,” said Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) board member Ramon Fernandez in Tuesday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
The basketball legend’s optimism came from the fact that the Philippines is on its way to meeting its target to qualify at least 19 athletes to the quadrennial event — the most by the country in recent memory.
Currently, there are a total of 13 Filipinos who made the cut including golfer Juvic Pagunsan, who just qualified yesterday.
Also earning seats were pole-vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Caloy Yulo, boxers Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, lifters Hidilyn Diaz and Elreen Ando, rower Cris Nievarez, jin Kurt Barbosa, skateboarder Margie Didal and shooter Jayson Valdez.
Apart from the 13, six more Olympic seats will come in golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe are virtually qualified and two universality seats from swimming and a women's spot in track and field via gender equality are also coming in soon.
“We count about maybe 19 already and we’re hoping we can send a lot of athlete. We’re going to break some records as far as the number of delegation is concerned,” said Fernandez.
The four-time PBA MVP stressed all has medal chances but mentioned the likes of Petecio, Yulo, Obiena, Diaz and Saso as the stronger bets.
Meanwhile, Fernandez also said all Olympic qualifiers will get an increase of monthly allowance including Ando, whose stipend hiked from Php19,000 to Php43,000.
“With the exception of Hidilyn, who is classified as platinum or receiving Php45,000 a month being a four-time Olympian and an Olympic silver medalist, and Eumir, who is priority A or receiving P43,000, the rest tumaas classification,” he said.
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