MANILA, Philippines — Preparing for the Olympics was no easy feat, so much so that Carlo Paalam had to face every style possible during the national team’s training camp in Thailand.
Paalam is a slugger by trade but he knew he had to acclimate himself to different stances and fighting styles if he wants to elevate his game in time for the Tokyo Games.
“We had a lot of sparring partners here in Thailand, different styles, orthodox and southpaws,” said Paalam in Filipino. “I’ve learned so much from them.”
Paalam, a gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games and a bronze winner in the Asian Games, admitted he was never a person to religiously watch tapes of potential opponents because he’s aware that fighters will oftentimes change styles come fight time.
Nevertheless, he’s aware that experiencing things firsthand is a faster way for him to learn and that was what he got when he and his teammates Nesthy Petecio and Irish Magno trained in the striking hotbed.
“I’m a slugger but I can change styles and I admit I don’t watch my opponents’ fights because I know everything can change during the fight,” said Paalam. “I can use distance especially if I’m facing a strong opponent but I still prefer to keep the fight in the middle of the ring.”
An Olympic first-timer, Paalam said he’s like a little kid anticipating a big event and that he’s ready as ever for his first break into the world stage.
Paalam, 23, qualified for Tokyo due to his world rankings in the flyweight division and was surprised that he earned a slot especially after the AIBA Boxing Olympic Qualifying Tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m excited for the fights, we’re ready,” said Paalam. “We’ll have to do our best and we have to believe in ourselves. We couldn’t have done this if not for the Lord’s blessings.”
“The rankings were really a huge part for us because it was what gave us the chance to be in this position. We were surprised that we qualified because of it and we’re thankful to God for this chance in the Olympics.”
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