Last batch of PH Olympians off for London

The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 19 2012 12:02 PM | Updated as of Jul 19 2012 08:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Fresh from overseas training, archers Mark Javier and Rachel Anne Cabral and Fil-Japanese judoka Tomohiko Hoshina leave tonight for Hong Kong en route to London to join eight other teammates seeing action in the 30th Olympic Games.

Javier, Cabral and Hoshina comprised the last group of Filipino athletes to take off for an 18-hour flight to the British capital, more than a week before the world’s biggest sporting spectacle opens with a glitzy welcome party on July 27.

They came back the other day after wrapping up the final phase of their respective buildups, with Javier and Cabral going through a 10-day training in South Korea under Korean coach Chung Jae Yun and Hoshina doing his own in Tokyo under Japanese mentor Yasuhiro Sato.

Philippine team chef de mission Manny Lopez, who left on Tuesday evening, will meet Javier and Co. at the Heathtrow airport and accompany them to the high-rise, vast Olympic Village, home to more than 16,000 athletes and officials from 204 nations for the next three weeks.

Any day now, long jumper Marestella Torres, long distance runner Rene Herrera, shooter Brian Rosario, boxer Mark Anthony Barriga, swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Khing Lacuna will also check in in one of the 2,818 apartments across 11 residential blocks inside the 65-acre Olympic Village in east London.

These seven athletes are now on the closing stage of a free three-week training camp in several world class facilities leading to the Games while BMX rider Danny Caluag, presently training in the Netherlands, is expected to join his teammates early next week.

Because they made it last to one of the leanest ever national Olympic teams, Javier and Cabral decided to skip the London camp and train instead in Seoul and other Korean cities under Chung, a veteran Olympian.

On the other hand, the 25-year-old Hoshina, a SEA Games silver medalist in 2007 whose mother is a Filipina from Bulacan, opted to train in Tokyo where he’s a high school teacher.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco Jr, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Ricardo Garcia and POC secretary-general Steve Hontiveros head the top officials leaving on July 25 in time for the opening ceremonies on the night of July 27.

The Philippine contingent is supported by ICTSI, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Petron, Mizuno, Samsonite, Philracom, Smart Sports, TV5, and the Philippine Sports Commission.