THE Philippines will be sending probably its biggest qualified squad in years in the history of the Olympics.
Women’s skating star Margielyn Didal earned a slot in the quadrennial Games putting the Philippine Team with 10 athletes (through qualification) battling for pride and glory in the biggest sports event this coming July in Tokyo, Japan.
The 22-year-old Cebuana who already a champion in the Southeast Asia and Asian Games failed to make it to the finals in the ongoing World Skate Championships in Rome, Italy, but her current ranking at No.13 in the world is enough to catapult her as competitor skaters in Tokyo Games.
Skate Pilipinas on its social media flatform claimed that the formal announcement would be made after the World Championship Finals, but said that based on the current world ranking Didal is already qualified to play in Tokyo.
On Instagram, Didal shared videos of her second run and practice session during the competition, where she skate off with the world best players which included World No. 3 Momiji Nishiya, No. 8 Roos Zwetsloot and No. 12 Yumeka Oda.
“I didn’t make it to the finals but I’m stoked to be here and skate with the homies!” she claimed.
The Cebuano native missed out on an outright berth when she finished 17th in the World Championship semifinals on Friday but her performance is enough to gain points to keep her ranking safely.
With this, she expectedly join the Philippine Team already composed of pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxers Eumir Marcial, Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno, Carlo Paalam, rower Cris Nievarez, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.
Under the universality rule, the National Olympic Committee (NOC) in athletics and swimming are allowed to enter one male athlete and one female athlete in case they have no athletes who make it in the qualifying round. With OJ Obiena already qualified in the pole vault event, the Philippine Athletics Federation has only one slot available.
With several sports still playing their qualification tournament, the country is looking for at least 15 athletes to play in Tokyo and chances is much higher to finally end the gold medal draught in the Games.
The Philippines first competed in the Olympic Games in 1924 in Paris and become a regular participant except in the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics. So far, the Philippines already won 10 medals in the Games with three silver courtesy of boxers Anthony Villanueva in 1964 Tokyo edition, Mansueto Velasco in 1996 Atlanta Games and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz in 2016 Games in Brazil.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez expressed gratitude and elation to Didal and other Tokyo-bound athletes and said the government is ready to extend all necessary support for their campaign to win the elusive gold medal.
“We’re ready. The budget is there. Magensayo pa kayong mabuti at focus, kami ang bahala sa lahat,” said Ramirez.
The PSC is spending more than P100 million for the athletes preparation and participation in the Olympics.