MANILA, Philippines -- Four Filipinos are already assured of berths in the Tokyo Olympics next year, and the officer-in-charge of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC)C hopes that at least 11 more athletes will join them.
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo, and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno are all set to represent the country in 2021, when the postponed Olympics get going in Tokyo.
"We are really hoping na umabot to 13, 15 also. I think we sent 13 (athletes) in 2016, so we are hoping we can send 15," PSC OIC Ramon Fernandez said during a recent online interview.
In the 2016 Rio Olympics, 13 Filipinos competed in eight sports, with weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz making history by winning the silver medal in the women's -53kg division.
Diaz is one of the Filipino athletes still looking to qualify, with the Asian Games champion needing just one more tournament to secure her ticket.
Fernandez is also confident that skateboarder Margielyn Didal, another Asian Games gold medalist, is a shoo-in for an Olympic spot, as well as "one or two more" skateboarders.
"Sa taekwondo, meron ding one or two," he noted. "Sa karate, meron ding two or four. Meron tayong tatlong babae -- si Jamie Lim, si Joanne Orbon, and si Junna Tsukii."
Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe is also virtually assured of a spot, and Fernandez hopes that two more Filipino-Japanese judokas can qualify.
At least four other boxers are also hoping to earn their spots, but virtually all qualification events were put on hold because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Diaz was actually set to compete in Colombia in March when the tournament was cancelled, and the Filipino boxers were supposed to compete at the world Olympic qualification tournament in May, before it was also postponed.
"So much the better if we make 20 athletes that will compete (in Tokyo)," said Fernandez.
Fernandez is set for a meeting with Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino and chef-de-mission Mariano "Nonong" Araneta to discuss the training of the Filipino Olympians as well as the other Olympic hopefuls.
"It's really the NSAs and the POC that could more or less know kung sino sa kanilang mga atleta ang andoon sa taas, na may malaking chance na mag-qualify," he said.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).