Sports

Marcos sends off Olympians to Paris, says they embody quintessence of Filipino spirit

By Jeanne Michael Penaranda, Correspondent

MANILA/PARIS – The Philippine delegation to the Paris Olympics which opens in July left for the French capital last Friday hoping for more medals than it did in the Tokyo Oympics where the country’s first gold medal was harvested.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. attended the send-off ceremony for the members of the Paris Olympics-bound Philippine delegation at the Marble Hall of the Ayuntamiento de Manila in Intramuros before they departed for Paris.

During the sendoff, Marcos said the Filipino athletes heading to the Olympic Games in Paris embody the “quintessence of Filipino spirit” which is defined by perseverance, sacrifice, discipline and excellence.

“The athletes that we are sending to this year’s Olympics embody the quintessence of that Filipino spirit – a spirit that knows no bounds, thrives on adversity, and dares to break any barriers put before them,” Marcos said in his speech during the send-off ceremony for the Philippine athletes at Ayuntamiento de Manila in Intramuros.

Marcos said the Paris-bound Filipinos carry with them not just the country’s banner, but also the “hopes and dreams” of the nation.

“Whether in the boxing ring, on the gymnastics floor, or in any [arena] that you compete in, you exemplify the very best of what it means to be a Filipino — we are competitive, courageous, and determined. But we do it with a smile on our face,” Marcos said.

“As you step onto the global stage, hold our flag high and show the world what a Filipino is made of. We believe in you. We are proud of you. And we will be with you every step of this remarkable journey,” he added.

The President highlighted that P52 million has been allotted for the preparation, training and participation of Filipino athletes in the Olympics.

He further noted that about P1.156 billion has been allocated for sports funding, through the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

As for sports facilities, he said the National Academy of Sports System in Tarlac and the Philippine Sports Training Center in Bataan are nearing completion to train and develop present and aspiring athletes for future competitions, while the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila and the PhilSports Complex in Pasig are being rehabilitated.

President Marcos, meanwhile, directed the Office of the Executive Secretary to release additional funds to the PSC to help support the preparation and participation for the July 26 to Aug. 11 quadrennial Games.

“All of these demonstrate this commitment that we have to the advancement of Filipino athletes by equipping them with the tools and encouragement to realize their full potential,” he said.

Marcos urged all Filipinos to rally behind the athletes.

“After all, we are not chasing medals. We are sprinting towards making history, bringing honor to our country and inspiring us all,” he said.

The athletes who qualified for the Paris Olympics are pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena; gymnasts Carlos Yulo, Aleah Finnegan, Levi Ruivivar and Emma Malabuyo; boxers Aira Villegas, Nesthy Petecio, Hergie Bacyadan, Eumir Marcial and Carlo Paalam; rower Joanie Delgaco; weightlifters Vanessa Sarno, John Ceniza and Elreen Ando; and fencer Sam Catantan

The number of athletes may yet increase as officials are awaiting announcement in athletics and other sports.

The hopefuls are hurdlers John Cabang Tolentino and Lauren Hoffman who are just counting the days before their acceptance notice for the Games arrives along with Filipino American sprinter Kristina Knott and  Robyn Brown, the women’s 400-meter hurdles Asian champion.

Boxers Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio will carry the Philippine flag in the parade of nations in the opening ceremony.


The athletes will train in Metz, France where they will stay in a training facility for their final preparations.

Meanwhile, the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) is optimistic that its team going to the Paris Olympics can duplicate, if not surpass, the performance at the Tokyo Games.

ABAP secretary-general Marcus Jarwin Manalo said Nesthy Petecio (women’s 57kg), Aira Villegas (women’s 50kg), Hergie Bacyadan (women’s 75kg), Carlo Paalam (men’s 57kg) and Eumir Marcial (men’s 80kg) are medal contenders.

“These five who qualify, we feel have a very good chance to podium and to go all the way,” said Manalo, who joined the team in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the conference hall of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

“We’re very optimistic that this is really a strong five that we’re bringing (to the Paris Olympics),” he added.

Petecio and Paalam won silver medals while Marcial got a bronze at the Tokyo Games.

Alam kong hindi ganun kadali ngayon yung pag-dadaanan ko sa Paris especially iba siya sa Tokyo. Kasi sa Tokyo wala siyang exposure halos, walang laro, walang multi-training na ginawa. Ngayon open na. So hindi basta-basta gaya ng iniisip ng iba (I know that it will not be that easy for me to pass through Paris, especially since it is different from Tokyo. Because in Tokyo, there’s almost no exposure, no games, no multi-training was done. Now it’s open. So it’s not easy as others think),” said Petecio in the weekly session presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, MILO, Smart/PLDT, and ArenaPlus, the leading sports entertainment gateway in the country.

Iba na yung level ng mga boxers ngayon. Kung may pinaka-maliit pa na butas ng karayom na pagdadaanan ko, mas maliit pa yung daan na gagawin ko dito (Today’s boxers are on a different level. If there is the tiniest hole of a needle for me to pass through, the path I will make through is even smaller),” added Petecio, who was accompanied by Villegas, Bacyadan, and coaches Don Abnett, Reynaldo Galido, and Ronald Chavez.

The Philippine contingent, including the boxing team, will be leaving on June 22 for their month-long training in Metz, France.

Filipino athletes who qualified for the Paris Olympics will receive cash incentives from senators.

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chair Richard Bachmann made the announcement  during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) in Manila.

“Twenty-three million is only from Senator Risa Hontiveros, then Senator Bong Go has a figure already. He has additional. There’s also additional from other senators direct to the athletes already na pinasa lang sa (that was just coursed through the) PSC and I just signed a cheque siguro mga (of around) PHP30 million plus,” Bachmann said.

At the 2021 Tokyo Games, the Philippines won its first gold medal coming from weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz. Paalam and Petecio pocketed silver medals while Marcial got a bronze.

“We have until June 30 to see who else will qualify,” said Bahmann.

The PSC has allotted P52 million for the Paris Olympics, covering preparation, training and actual participation, as well as airfare, luggage and parade uniforms.

“We’ve already spent P43 million so I have P8 to P9 million left. If it’s not enough, I will look fore more,” Bachmann, a former professional basketball player, said.

Meanwhile, Cignal TV will present Team Philippines’ Paris Olympics song “Isang Daang Taong Laban Para Sa Bayan,” about the country’s 100 years of participation in the quadrennial tournament.

Cignal TV will chronicle the journey of Filipino athletes – from the buildup in their preparations and training, their respective campaigns, and the aftermath of their performance in the Olympics – which will be aired and featured on various MediaQuest platforms, primarily on Cignal TV platforms, including Free-to-Air and Pay TV, and on digital and social media through One Sports, One News, and News5

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