Filipino bets see uphill fight in Youth Olympics

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 11 2014 01:05 PM | Updated as of Jun 11 2014 09:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines - With just a dozen qualifiers at most, the Philippines will be hard-pressed to deliver a medal in the second Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China from Aug. 14 to 28.

“It’s very hard to tell because these athletes are all first-timers in the YOG,” said Jonne Go, the chef-de-mission of the Philippine contingent to the global event.

Go graced yesterday’s PSA Forum along with Philippine Olympic Committee vice president Jose Romasanta and Asian Games deputy chef-de-mission Julian Camacho.

So far, only eight Filipinos have qualified to the event for athletes aged 14 to 18. At least 200 nations will participate and vie for 222 gold medals in 28 sports.

Already in the Philippine lineup are archers Luis Gabriel Moreno and Bianca Cristina Gotuaco, artistic gymnast Ava Loren Verdeflor, triathlete Victorija Evania Deldio and 3-on-3 basketball’s Kobe Paras, Manuel Mosqueda III, John Paul Cauilan and Amando San Juan II.

Go, president of the Philippine Canoe-Kayak Federation, said still knocking on the door are swimmer Roxane Yu, shooter Amparo Acuna, golfers Mia Legaspi and Princess Superal and a couple more from athletics and taekwondo.

Yu, competing in the 200m backstroke, has reportedly met the standard while Legaspi and Superal are lobbying for inclusion, having won the gold and silver in the 2013 Asian Youth Games.

Acuna is in Munich competing in the World Shoot but is still awaiting confirmation of her YOG slot. She also saw action in the last AYG in Nanjing.

Go said as chef-de-mission, she’s working closely with the qualifiers, whom they have enrolled to the Olympic Solidarity program.

“Our gymnast is in the United States so right now we can only monitor those who are in the country,” said Go.

Romasanta said under the Solidarity program, the eight athletes are receiving $500 a month for training purposes.

“We are getting full support from the International Olympic Committee. The IOC has been very generous as far as providing support to the athletes for their training and actual participation,” he said.

Romasanta said the Solidarity program does not only cover the coming YOG but the 2016 Rio Olympics as well.

“It’s not limited to the YOG and not just for the athletes but for also technical assistance to the NSAs (national sports associations) and coaches,” Romasanta added.

The POC official said the IOC has already asked them to recommend athletes to be placed under the program and enhance their chances of qualifying to the next Olympics.

“The IOC is trying to ensure that there will be expanded participation in Rio and ensure quality competition. Under this program, our athletes will enhance their chances to qualify,” he said.