PH bets ignore pressure as YOG opens

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 17 2014 08:57 AM | Updated as of Aug 17 2014 04:57 PM

Performers dance in the rain during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, Jiangsu province August 16, 2014. Photo by Aly Song, Reuters.

NANJING – As action in the second Youth Olympic Games heats up Sunday, the Philippines pins its hopes on a pair of 16-year-old girls who may be too young to feel the pressure.

The other members of the Philippine team had left their quarters for Saturday evening’s opening ceremony, and Vicky Deldio of triathlon and Roxanne Yu of swimming, had to stay behind.

Deldio is scheduled to see action at 9 a.m. at the Xuanwu Lake triathlon venue Sunday while Yu will be at the Olympic Sports Center for the 10 a.m. qualifying heats in the 100-m backstroke.

As much as they wanted to witness and be part of the dazzling opening parade for the 3,600 athletes vying for the 222 gold medals in 28 sports, they had no choice.

“For us it’s one thing to look forward to but it’s alright. It was best for us to skip the parade,” said Yu, a fourth-year high school student at the British International School in Phuket.

Together, Yu and Deldio will try to break the ice for the Philippines in this huge gathering of the finest young athletes from all over the world.

Ava Loreign Verdeflor of artistic gymnastics will see action in the quarterfinals Monday while Zion Rose Nelson will be in the 400-m heats of track and field on Wednesday.

Celdon Jude Arellano will try to find his mark in the men’s air rifle also on Wednesday while Pinoy archers Bianca Roxas-Chua Gotuaco and Luis Gabriel Moreno, will see action Friday.

It’s no easy task for any of these athletes, all young and yet so eager to represent the Philippines, and hope to win the country’s first medal in the YOG.

In 2010, for the first YOG edition in Singapore, the Philippines fielded nine athletes in five sports, and they came home with no medal to show.

This year’s batch of athletes have trained hard and worked hard just to get here.

They’re trying hard to ignore the pressure.

“Of course I can feel the pressure but you try not to dwell on it,” said Deldio inside the Philippine quarters.

“But I’d rather feel it than be over-confident. It’s only normal to feel the pressure in this level of competition,” said the young triathlete from Subic, now a freshman college student at University of the Philippines.

Deldio, who’d been to triathlon camps in China, Korea and Portugal last year, said she knows some of her fellow competitors here.

“The Asian competitors I’ve seen them in the camps. But for those from the other continents, I just browse their names on the Internet and look at their times,” she said.

Deldio knows that nothing will come easy here.

“This is the Youth Olympics,” she said.

Yu, in her first year of scholarship at the British IS in Phuket, doesn’t have any expectations other than giving her best in the pool.

“I worked hard and waited long to qualify to this Youth Olympics and now I’m here to compete,” said Yu, who was out training the past two days here under his Australian high-performance swim coach Simon Jones.

“She’s been swimming really well lately and she’s just getting stronger,” said Jones of Yu, who will also vie in the 200-m backstroke on Tuesday.

Yu said she will race her own race.

“I just want to my best here and make the most out of this experience. I don’t want to pressure myself too much,” she said.

It’s too early for these athletes to feel the pressure.