Although they both did not qualify outright for the Tokyo Olympic Games, swimmers Luke Gebbie and Remedy Rule are more fortunate than their predecessors who were awarded universality places by the International Swimming Federation to be able to compete in the quadrennial meet.
Due to the extraordinary circumstances caused by the pandemic, Gebbie and Rule have been awarded with 2 events instead of 1, unlike those who got universality spots in previous Olympics, according to Philippine Swimming Inc. president Lani Velasco.
“Gebbie and Rule earned universality places by garnering the highest FINA points among Filipinos after competing in Olympic qualifying competitions,” said Velasco, adding that that the Lausanne-based world governing body for swimming was to formally announce the universality places late Thursday.
Thus, Gebbie will compete in the men’s 50 and 100-meter freestyle events while Rule will see action in the women’s 100 and 200-meter butterfly races in the Olympic swimming championships scheduled July 24 to August 1 at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre.
“We would like to congratulate Remedy and Luke for earning the right to represent Philippine swimming at the Olympic Games,” Velasco said, while thanking the Philippine Sports Commission for its support of the swimmers in their Olympic qualifying bids.
A double silver medalist at the 2019 30th Southeast Asian Games, Rule garnered 830 FINA points in copping bronze in the women’s 200m butterfly event in a new national mark of 2 minutes, 9.58 seconds at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Des Moines, Iowa on March 5, 2020.
The former University of Texas swimming ace booked a slot in the women’s 100 fly after tallying 808 FINA points with a time of 59.55 seconds during the heats of the Longhorn Aquatics Elite Invite & Time Trials last May 5 in Austin, Texas.
Her times at both events are within the Olympic Selection Time (OST) or “B-cut” times of 2:12.28 and 59.66 seconds, for each event, respectively, noted Velasco, also an executive board member of the Asia Swimming Federation who attended the FINA World Congress in Doha, Qatar early this month.
Based in Melbourne, Gebbie was given a special exemption by Swimming Australia to take part in the Swimming Australia Olympic trials last July 17 and made the most out of the opportunity.
He earned 795 FINA points in the men’s 50-meter freestyle, resetting his own national record of 22.57 seconds in the heat to sink his own old mark of 22.62 seconds in winning the bronze medal in the event in the 30th SEA Games.
Gebbie, who also took a silver medal in the men’s 4x100-meter freestyle relay of the meet, also tallied 828 FINA points in clocking a new national standard of 49.94 seconds in the men’s 100-meter freestyle event at the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea two years ago.
The swimmer’s times are also faster than the Olympic “B-cut” times of 22.67 seconds and 50.03 seconds in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle events, respectively.
Gebbie and Rule will boost the Philippine contingent to 19 athletes in 11 sports as they make their debut in the Summer Games unfolding on July 23, succeeding Jessie Khing Lacuna and Jasmine Alkali, who represented the country in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympiads.
They join the distinguished ranks of pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, sprinter Kristina Knott, gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo, boxers Felix Eumir Marcial, Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio and Irish Magno, rower Cris Nievarez, skateboarder Margielyn Arda Didal, shooter Jayson Valdez, taekwondo jin Kurt Ryan Barbosa and weightlifters Hidylin Diaz and Elreen Ann Ando.
The Philippine Olympic contingent is the biggest since 20 athletes competed in 9 disciplines at the 2000 Sydney Olympiad.