PH batch of Olympians in Tokyo ‘strong’: Ramirez

PH batch of Olympians in Tokyo ‘strong’: Ramirez

TOKYO – For Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez, three times could be a charm.

Ramirez owns the distinction as the only chairperson since the PSC’s establishment in 1990 to be at the helm of the sports agency in three Olympics—his first in Beijing 2008, followed by Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and now, Tokyo 2020+1.

“I always say, Olympic success is more than just a year of preparation,” said Ramirez two days before he and Chief of Staff Marc Velasco will fly to Tokyo aboard Philippine Airlines on Thursday.

“For some, it took 3 cycles. Experience is good leverage,” Ramirez added.

Ramirez’s Olympic journey matches weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s Games sortie.

Then 18 years old, Diaz made her Olympic debut in Beijing as a wild card in the women’s 58 kg class. So young and so innocent on the Olympic stage then, she didn’t make the podium, nor get close to it, but the prize of Zamboanga City reaped the experience she needed.

London 2012 wasn’t Diaz’s time then but came 2016 in Rio and she brought home a silver medal.

“I have the privilege of seeing Hidilyn grow from grassroots to Olympic medalist,” Ramirez said.

Diaz and 18 other Filipinos are competing in 11 sports in Tokyo and Ramirez believes all of them have the potential to win the country’s first Olympic gold medal—or perhaps even more.

“This batch is strong. Not to discount previous batches kasi lagi ko sinasabi (I always said) making it to the Olympics is a medal in itself, it is just that this delegation presents us a strong chance for a golden break” Ramirez explained.

Ramirez recalled how he felt when Diaz landed that silver in Rio, ending a six Olympic cycle drought since Atlanta 2016 when Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco won a men’s flyweight gold medal in boxing.

“Everyone was ecstatic syempre. Dinala ko siya kay Presidente at ang napakalinaw na bilin na tandang tanda ko – Butch alagaan mo ang mga bata (Of course, everyone was ecstatic. I brought her to the President and the instruction was clear – Butch take care of the athletes)” Ramirez said.

Other Filipino athletes competing in Tokyo include Ernest John Obiena (athletics), Carlos Yulo (gymnastics), Eumir Felix Marcial (boxing), Irish Magno (boxing), Nesthy Petecio (boxing), Carlo Paalam (boxing), Cris Nievarez (rowing), Kurt Barbosa (taekwondo), Margielyn Didal (skateboarding), Elreen Ando (weightlifting), Jayson Valdez (shooting), Juvic Pagunsan (golf), Kiyomi Watanabe (judo), Kristina Knott (athletics), Yuka Saso (golf), Bianca Pagdanganan (golf), Luke Gebbie (swimming) and Remedy Rule (swimming). (PNA)

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