Rest, sight-seeing for PH athletes in Rio

Rick Olivares

Posted at Jul 26 2016 05:33 PM

Team Philippines pose for a photo with the Christ the Redeemer statue. Photo provided by author

With jetlag setting in, the Philippine delegation to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics opted for more rest and a little sight-seeing after a long 30-hour flight from Manila to Dubai to Brazil. 

The Filipino contingent went to some tourist spots as well as the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio.

With more and more athletes from other nations arriving, the Filipinos’ early arrival will quickly get them acclimated to the different time zone and get back into training with the opening of the Olympics 10 days away. 

Swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi arrived on Monday with boxers Rogen Ladon and Charley Suarez set to follow. Track and field athletes Eric Cray and Mary Joy Tabal will arrive on the day of Opening while golfer Miguel Tabuena will plane in August 6.

“We evaluated our state and we all felt that we could use another day of rest and recovery,” Philippine chef de mission Jose Romasanta said.

(READ: 7 Russian swimmers to miss Rio Olympics over doping)

Save for table tennis paddler and Philippine flag bearer Ian Lariba, everyone found the time to relax and explore the Olympic Village.

Under the watchful eye of South Korean coach Kim Moo-Kyo who won a bronze medal in doubles competition in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Lariba did some light training. 

“As much as I wanted to rest, my coach and I thought that a little training will help us cope with the jetlag,” offered Lariba.

Romasanta added that during the traditional parade of nation during the opening ceremony in the evening of August 5, Lariba will carry the flag up to the main grandstand, after which she will hand over the flag to taekwondo jin, Kirstie Elaine Alora. 

“Ian will be competing at 9 a.m. the following morning and the flag isn’t exactly light,” said Romasanta. “She will have done her job so it would be good to give her arms and hands some rest.”

The POC official also intimated that there is also the possibility that boxers Rogen Ladon and Charley Suarez might be asked to skip the parade to opt for rest as they, along with swimmer Jessie Lacuna, will all be seeing action on August 6.

“We will see how things progress,” added Romasanta. “We know the parade is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity but so is the competition. We will monitor their progress."

According to delegation doctor Dr. Ferdinand Brawner, many of the athletes’ muscles felt tight after the long trip. 

“I heard from track and field coach Joebert Delicano that Marestella Torres-Sunang felt tight so we had to give her a rub down to relax those tightened muscles," he said.

Added Romasanta: “I expect all the athletes who are here already to get into the swing of training by tomorrow (Tuesday).”

Weightlifting coach Alfonsito Aldanete said Colonia and Diaz will be at the training venue Tuesday. At the same time, the coach has decided not to allow his two athletes from joining the opening march because they are scheduled to compete on Aug. 7.

“We just made the most out of the one-day break. And since everybody wanted to see the Christ the Redeemer statue, we took the chance. Everybody was happy with the visit. And it was nice to see our athletes loosen up,” explained Romasanta. 

“Now that they’ve seen the sites, it’s out of their minds. It’s time to get serious and focus on the Games. We still have 11 days to the opening ceremony,” he said.

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