Three more Pinoys make the cut for Paris Olympics

IT’S 18 and still counting for the Philippines’ 100th year participation in the Olympics with swimmers Kayla Sanchez and Harold Hatch and judoka Kiyomi Watanade making the grade for Paris.

And the roster could increase to 20 pending the International Golf Federation’s (IGF) official announcement of the Paris qualifiers which, to date, has Bianca Pagdanganan at No. 35 and Dottie Ardina at No. 55 in the top 60 cut off for the Olympics.

“Great news, and we can even ask for more,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino from Metz, France, where he’s overseeing the pre-Paris training camp at La Moselle with chef de mission Jonvic Remulla.

“Each day, as the countdown to the Olympics dwindles, the morale goes higher and higher,” Tolentino added.

Sanchez, who switched nationality from Canada only two years ago, will swim in the women’s 100 meters freestyle while Hatch qualified for the men’s 100 butterfly.

Watanabe, on the other hand, will be in her second consecutive Olympics after making through the continental qualification route in women’s -63 kgs.

At 20 athletes, the Philippines already surpassed Tokyo 2020, where Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo won the country’s first Olympic gold medal.

“But we’re expecting more,” said Tolentino as he awaits an official announcement from World Athletics on who will join world No. 2 men’s pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena in Paris.

David Nepomuceno ran the men’s 100 and 200 meters in the Philippines’ Olympic debut in Paris 1924 and participated in every Olympics after that—interrupted only by the boycott of Moscow 1980.

“We’re chasing more history, we’re setting the ante higher,” said Tolentino, whose target is to match or surpass the one gold, two silver and one bronze medals clinched in Tokyo.

The other Filipinos who qualify for Paris are weightlifters Vanessa Sarno, John Febuar Ceniza and Elreen Ando; boxers Aira Villegas, Hergie Bacyadan, Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Felix Marcial; rower Joanie Delgaco; fencer Samantha Catantan; and gymnasts Carlos Yulo, Emma Malabuyo and Levi Ruivivar. / PR

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