Butch: Pray for Philippine athletes

WITH barely two days to go before the 2016 Rio Olympics formally opens at 7 a.m. Saturday (Philippine time) or 8 p.m., Friday (Brazil time), Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William "Butch" Ramirez urged Filipinos to pray for the 12 national athletes who will compete for flag and country starting August 5 to 21 in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

Ramirez, during a media briefing at the PSC media conference room in Manila Wednesday, said, "Pray nating hindi sila ma-Zika (virus) at magkamedalya sila."

He was pertaining to swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Lacuña, boxers Charly Suarez of Davao del Norte and Rogen Ladon, taekwondo jin Kirstie Alora, weightlifters Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia, hurdler Eric Cray, long jumper Marestella Torres Sunang and marathoner Mary Joy Tabal, table paddler Ian Lariba and golfer Miguel Tabuena.

Ramirez said the 12 Filipino athletes in Rio are the only ones representing the Philippines.

"Malaking bagay na nakapadala tayo ng 12 athletes, that we are able to participate," he said.

He also expressed confidence that the Filipinos will give their best in the Games, adding that, "Hindi naman imposible na manalo sila o magkamedalya sila," Ramirez said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine flag was hoisted at the Olympic Village during the flag-raising on Wednesday with some of the 12 national athletes with other coaches and officials also in attendance.

Wacky poses of Suarez, Ladon, Sunang, Diaz, Alora, Lariba, Lacuña and Alkhaldi were posted on their social media accounts.

"Wala kasing magawa after ng flag-raising, nagkulitan nalang para sa pictures," Sunang said in a Facebook chat on Wednesday evening.

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