Our Olympians in ‘Silent Games’

By Al S. Mendoza

 

IT seems certain we will have more bets in the Tokyo Olympics this July, enhancing our chances of victory.

From the four Filipinos already assured of Olympic slots after surviving their respective qualifying events, Hidilyn Diaz and Nesthy Petecio appear also headed to the July Games.

Diaz, the first Filipina to win an Olympic medal by snatching the weightlifting silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil, is virtually set to clinch a ticket to the Tokyo Olympiad that was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 27-year-old Zamboanguena, now training in Malaysia, might join a mock tournament to formalize her advance.

This will be her fourth straight Olympic appearance since the 2008 Beijing Games.

She is ripe for the gold—a first, if ever, since the country first participated in 1924.

Like Diaz, Petecio is also practically Tokyo-bound as her last qualifying tiff got scrapped by the plague.

Petecio will join fellow boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Felix Marcial to the Tokyo Olympiad, bolstering hopes of a golden haul since they are highly favored to rule their divisions.

Petecio and Magno are presently training at the Inspire Academy bubble in Calamba, Laguna.

Marcial is in the United States preparing under the wings of the legendary Freddie Roach at the famous Wild Card gym in Los Angeles, CA.

Roach, of course, is Manny Pacquiao’s trainer for nearly 20 years now.

With boxing declared open in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Marcial, who has turned professional last year, is qualified. He is No. 1 in the Tokyo middleweight division.

Should Marcial proceed to win, he will surpass the two silver boxing medals of Anthony Villanueva in 1964—also in Tokyo—and Onyok Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Also Tokyo-bound are gymnast Carlos Yulo and pole vaulter EJ Obiena.

Yulo is a cut above the rest, having qualified by winning the world championship in Stuttgart, Germany.

He’s been training in Tokyo since he won the SEA Games gold, easily, in 2019 in Manila.

More than 10,000 runners were tapped to do the torch relay from Fukushima to Tokyo in time for the opening ceremony on July 23.

Fukushima was the city struck by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, triggering a tsunami and a nuclear power meltdown that killed nearly 19,000 in 2011.

Japan’s Olympics organizers will allow only a handful of spectators to outflank the coronavirus in a made-for-television Games.

Party atmosphere is banned.

In short, the 11,000 or so athletes will perform not before a mass of spectators but in front of cameras.

Officials will waste no time to get the competitors out of Japan as quickly as possible after the Games.

Because there will be no cheering of any kind, this Olympiad might well be renamed to Silent Olympics from Summer Olympics.

Only when we clinch our first Olympic gold will we unleash our loudest applause.  At home.

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