THE Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) is up to the challenge of fulfilling a vision laid out 14 years ago to win a gold medal in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Newly-elected ABAP president Congressman Robbie Puno said the federation’s goal right now is geared towards bagging that elusive boxing gold a year from now as per the blue print established by now chairman Ricky Vargas when he initially served as head of the boxing body in 2009.
“Ang marching orders namin from our chairman now is that sinabi niya in 2009 when he became president of ABAP nangako, siya na we will go through three Olympic cycles, and on the fourth Olympic cycle we will go for gold. Siguro that would be enough time,” recalled Puno of ABAP’s designed plan when Vargas first assumed the presidency of the association.
“It was a moderate kind of goal-setting na ginawa ng aming president that time and now our chairman Ricky Vargas. We’re on the fourth Olympic cycle in Paris so the intention is to really win the gold. And we expect to accomplish that.”
Puno graced the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum for the very first time Tuesday at the conference hall of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, and was accompanied by ABAP secretary-general Marcus Jarwin Manalo and executive assistant Karina Picson.
The first step towards achieving the goal is to perform well in the coming Asian Games in Hangzhou China, which serves as qualifier to the Paris Games.
Among those in the training pool now for the Asiad are Tokyo Olympics silver medalists Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio, bronze medal winner Eumir Marcial, Rogen Ladon, Ian Clark Bautista, Mark Ashley Fajardo, Aaron Jude Bado, Ronald Chavez Jr and Marjon Pianar, John Marvin, Ira Villegas, and Irish Magno.
Unfortunately, only Petecio will be fighting in the same weight class where she won a silver medal in the Tokyo Games as both Paalam and Marcial are going up in weight.
Manalo disclosed that except for Marcial, the Philippine boxing delegation in the Asiad is now undergoing training at the ABAP headquarters at Rizal Memorial, but will be leaving for India and Australia in the coming weeks to attend two separate training camps.
The contingent leaves for India on July 28 for a two-part training at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, where six other countries are also invited and sparring sessions will be held on a daily basis, before it travels to Karnataca on August 6 for another two weeks of training.
Upon returning to Manila for a 10-day rest, the team goes to Canberra, Australia by Sept. 2 for another joint training camp.
“After that, just one week here in Manila and then we fly to Hangzhou for the Asian Games. Yan ang ating schedule,” said Manalo in the session presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, MILO, Philippine Olymic Committee, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
The Philippines will be seeing action in six of seven categories in the men’s class, and three of six in the distaff side.
Finalists in the men’s division and semifinalists in the women’s side will qualify outright to the Olympics.
Manalo added two world qualifiers will still be held by next year for those who missed out on the Asiad, but Puno said the earlier the boxers clinch Olympics berths, the better.
“Lahat ng mga hindi pumasa sa mga ibang regions pumapasok. So it’s much harder to join an Olympic qualifying tournament,” said the ABAP president. “So ang mandate namin sa mga boxers namin, dito na tayo sa Asian mag-qualify. Dito na natin tapusin para makuha na natin lahat.” (ai.mnm)