MANILA, Philippines -- The national boxing federation is ready to exhaust all of its resources to support the four Filipino boxers who will represent the country in the Olympic Games in Tokyo this July.
After Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial booked their tickets through the Asia-Oceania qualifiers in March 2020, Carlo Paalam and former world champion Nesthy Petecio also secured their berths through their world rankings last month.
"Ang parati naming sinasabi is, 'aim high'," said Ed Picson, secretary-general of the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP), when asked for his projection for the Filipino boxers.
"We cannot lower our projections," he stressed. "We will aim for the top plum."
Even before Petecio and Paalam qualified, the federation was already optimistic of the country's chances in the Olympic Games. Marcial, in particular, was seen as a gold medal hope, thanks to his performance in the qualifiers and his experience in the amateur ranks.
But having four boxers in the Summer Games bolsters Picson's confidence that they can finally end the country's medal drought.
"We took over ABAP in 2009. The first Olympics that we handled was 2012, we only had one boxer there, Mark Anthony Barriga. 2016, naging dalawa, so na-doble, dalawa sa 2016, Charly Suarez and Rogen Ladon. Now we have four, na-doble na naman," he said.
"So, is this the best chance we have? We always feel, whether we have one or two or four boxers, those were the best chances that we had for optimal performance in the Olympics. We cannot believe otherwise," he added.
"Eto apat, lalo na, 'di ba? Lalo nang naniniwala kami na malaki ang chances natin."
Thus, Picson said they are doing all they can to make sure that the boxers can reach their potential in the Tokyo Games. Currently, three of the four Olympians are in Thailand for a training camp; only Marcial is in Los Angeles, where he trains at the Wild Card Gym under celebrated coach Freddie Roach.
There are plans to hold another camp in New Delhi, where the boxers will also compete in the Asian Boxing Championships in May.
"Everybody is pulling together to give our boxers the best opportunities to be at their best, to be at their optimal condition when they get to the Olympics," said Picson, explaining that they have their coaching and support staff who are focused on the boxers' progress.
"That is the focus," he said. "We cannot say na, their best will actually win us the gold. But that is what we are aiming for. We're aiming for the gold, and they have to be at their best to be able to get that opportunity."
"So 'yun ang palagi nating dinidikdik sa coaching staff. 'Yun naman ang palaging dinidikdik ng coaching staff sa ating mga boxers. That you cannot let up. Hindi ka pwedeng magpa-jogging-jogging lang, 'di ba. They have to give it their all."