Tolentino says more athletes could qualify to Paris Games

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THE more, the merrier.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham Tolentino is optimistic the country could qualify more athletes to next year’s Paris Olympics than the 2021 Tokyo Games.

“We’ll try to surpass that 19 athletes from 11 sports from the Tokyo Olympics in Paris,” said the mayor from Tagaytay.

But the PhilCycling chief stressed it would depend on the collective effort that will be put up not just by the national athletes but also by all sectors including the POC and the government through the Philippine Sports Commission.

The country is pinning its hopes again on its bevy of world champions and record beaters headed by star lifter Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo, who delivered the Filipinos’ historic Olympic gold in Tokyo.

Also expected to go for a Paris berth are the world-class boxers spearheaded by Tokyo silver medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam and bronze winner Eumir Marcial, world titlist gymnast Carlos “Caloy” Yulo and World Championship pole vault bronze medalist EJ Obiena.

There is also optimism that Ms. Diaz-Naranjo would not be the only lifter to make the Olympic cut but also more like Tokyo Olympian Elreen Ando and up-and-coming Vanessa Sarno and Kristel Macrohon.

Count Filipino athletes in swimming, track and field, archery, golf, rowing, cycling, skateboarding, surfing, taekwondo and shooting among others to make a run at a place in the sun.

Out of the 19-strong delegation in Tokyo, the country snared a gold, two silvers and a bronze and there is hope the more athletes that would qualify, the more chances the country will have in capturing medals. — Joey Villar