By: Elena Grace Flores
13 Filipino athletes will be competing among the more than 10,000 participants in 28 Olympic sports to bring home gold medals to the country. Marestella Torres-Sunang of track and field and Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, made it there after going through many obstacles. Filipino chef-de-mission Jose Romasanta is confident that there’s nothing more to do to prepare for the games. “They are here because they are the best in the Philippines”; he said. Maracana Stadium, which built to host the 1950 World Cup, will be the historic venue of the opening ceremony.
Security threats, political instability, and the fear of the Zika virus, forced some of the biggest names to withdraw from the competition -just like Filipino golfer Angelo Que.
Romasanta, commented that for the rest of the remaining athletes,
“everything else is the least of the concern for our athletes. Their concern is being able to further improve and enhance their competitiveness until game time,” “They are not really concerned about or distracted by other things except focus on what they need to do. That’s what they are eagerly anticipating,” he added.
Others players who will try to bag the gold for the Philippines are boxers Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez, swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Khing Lacuna, athletics’ Eric Cray and Mary Joy Tabal, weightlifter Nestor Colonia, and taekwondo jin Kirstie Elaine Alora, judoka Kodo Nakano, golfer Miguel Tabuena, and table tennis ace Ian Lariba.
“It’s when and where the real business begins. And that’s what our athletes are eagerly anticipated. They are all going to do what they do best,” Romasanta clarified.
Lariba, the 21-year-old delegate of Cagayan de Oro, is the first table tennis player from the Philippines to make it to the Olympics. Lacuna will compete in the men’s 400m freestyle, who is at par with big names. Whereas Suarez, is a total medal contender, who will face Great Britain’s Joseph Cordina of the lightweight division.
Romasanta said there is no need pressuring the athletes to win the medal. “Let’s just take things as they come. Whoever the opponent will be will be faced with equal competitiveness by our athletes,” he said.
Security is tight in and around Rio, which is facing political unrest following the impeachment of its President but this has nothing to do with the players’ focus in winning their games