Pages: Can Paris do a Tokyo?

Match Point
John Pages
John Pages

The year 1924 is historic for the Philippines and for France.

It was 100 years ago when our country (the first in Southeast Asia) joined the Olympic Games. In 1924, the Philippines was represented by David Nepomuceno, who competed in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint events.

It was also 100 years ago when Paris last hosted the Olympics.

The City of Lights first hosted in 1900 then in 1924. It’s been a full century since the Olympians set foot on France’s capital.

The 2024 Paris Olympics will run from July 26 to August 11.

A total of 10,500 athletes and 206 delegations are expected to compete for 18 days in 28 traditional Olympic disciplines, representing 329 events.

How many Filipinos are set to banner our flag? Based on the pronouncement last Friday of POC Chairman Bambol Tolentino, a total of 13 are competing.

Previously, only nine Olympians were announced and these included Cebuano weightlifters John Febuar Ceniza and Elreen Ando; boxers Felix Marcia, Aira Villegas and Nesthy Petecio; gymnasts Carlos Yulo and Aleah Finnegan; and the world’s No. 2 pole vaulter, EJ Obiena.

Tolentino announced that four more are guaranteed Olympic berths: swimmers Kyla Sanchez and Jarrod Hatch and a yet-to-be-named women’s athletics athlete — all three qualifying via the universality rule.

The 13th Olympic qualifier is Rosegie Ramos, our fourth weightlifter, competing in the women’s 49-kilogram class.

According to Tolentino, there are 16 more Filipinos who have chances of flying to Paris this July: Robyn Brown (athletics), Kurt Barbosa (taekwondo), Cris Nievarez and Joanie Delgaco (rowing), brothers Keisei and Shugen Nakano, and Yuta Watanabe (judo), Jericho Francisco (skateboarding), Patrick Coo (BMX cycling), Shagne Yaoyao (MTB cycling), Emma Malabuyo (gymnastics), Bianca Pagdanganan (golf), and Carlo Paalam, Criz Laurente, Hergie Bacyadan and Rogen Ladon (boxing).

In all, the Philippines has the potential to field as many as 29 athletes.

TOKYO OLYMPICS. How does this compare with the Tokyo Games held in 2021?

In Japan’s capital, we had 19 Olympians. If you recall, that was our winningest Olympic Games when Hidilyn Diaz returned home with our first-ever gold medal. It was a 97-year-long wait for our country. We also won two silver medals, thanks to Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, and a bronze medal from Eumir Marcial — all from boxing.

Four medals out of 19 Filipinos in the Tokyo Olympics — a very impressive ratio.

Can our athletes match the medal tally from three years ago?

The POC is doing its best by helping “acclimatize” our athletes. Tolentino announced that they are sponsoring a month-long training camp for our Filipino Olympians in Les Arenas Metz, Paris — the home stadium of the Metz handball team and the Open de Moselle tennis tournament.

“This is the first time,” said Tolentino, “that our Olympians are immersing themselves in the host city of the Olympics for a month.”

In total, the Philippines (entering its 100th year of Olympics participation) has won 14 medals: one gold, five silver and eight bronze.

Let’s see if we can add to the medal tally when the Paris Olympics begins in 104 days.


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