THE Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap) gave a fitting sendoff to its four Tokyo-bound Olympians on Wednesday, July 14.
Abap Secretary-General Ed Picson, on his Facebook post, said they had a solemn Holy Mass online for boxers Nesthy Alcayde Petecio, Irish Magno, Carlo Paalam, and Eumir Felix Marcial that was officiated by Sappporo, Japan-based Fr. Reynaldo Legayada OFM. A fun fellowship then followed.
Filipino national boxers, coaches, support staff, and officials from Thailand, Colorado, USA, and the Philippines attended the online event, which aimed to boost the morale of the four athletes who will all be making their debut in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics slated July 23 to August 8, 2021.
"Mabuhay, Godspeed and good luck to Carlo Paalam, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Felix Marcial... Sumbag Pinoy! We ask the reader to pray for them and all Filipino athletes in the Tokyo Olympics," Picson added.
The national boxing team is fielding the most number of athletes in the 19-member Team Philippines to Tokyo with four qualifiers while golf has three in the persons of Juvic Pagunsan, Bianca Pagdanganan, and US Women's Open champion Yuka Saso. Weightlifting (Hidilyn Diaz and Elreen Ando), athletics (Ernest John Obiena and Kristina Knott) and swimming (Remedy Rule and Luke Gebbie) each had two representatives while gymnastics (Carlos Yulo), rowing (Cris Nievarez), taekwondo (Kurt Barbosa), skateboard (Margielyn Didal), shooting (Jayson Valdez), and judo (Kiyomi Watanabe) has one athlete each seeing action in the quadrennial sports spectacle.
What Abap did is a very thoughtful gesture to hype up our boxers who will be carrying on their shoulders the country's long sought dream of winning a gold medal. It is the moment of truth for Nesthy, Irish, Carlo, and Eumir. They may be newbies in the Olympics but who knows they may pull off surprises. They may even become recipients of what we call "beginner's luck."
Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco's silver in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 was the last Olympic boxing medal won by a Filipino. The Philippines won a total of two Olympic boxing silvers (Atlanta 1996, Tokyo 1964) and three bronzes (1932 Los Angeles, Seoul 1988, and Barcelona 1992).
Winning a medal in Tokyo could end the 25-year Olympic medal drought of the Philippines in the Olympics.
In the 2016 Rio Olympics, Davao del Norte's Charly Suarez was the lone Filipino boxer while Mark Anthony Barriga of Panabo City was the sole qualifier in the 2012 London Olympics. But both exited in the preliminary rounds.
With four boxers, we have more chances of clinching a medal although we all hope for the coveted gold. Let us all hope and pray for their safety and success. As Sir Ed puts it, Sumbag Pinoy!