Tolentino: Breakthrough in Tokyo, smashing success in Paris

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FILE – The Philippines’ Ernest John Obiena reacts during the Pole Vault Men competition of the ISTAF INDOOR (Internationales Stadionfest) international athletics meeting on February 5, 2021 in Berlin. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / POOL / AFP)

TOKYO — Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino is excitedly keeping his fingers crossed that the Philippine team here will deliver a page of Olympic history to a nation longing for that golden chapter.

“I believe this delegation is capable of doing that,” the concurrent cycling chief told reporters while on a flight somewhere over the Pacific.

What has Tolentino really stoked though is the fact that Team Philippines, already one of the most talented and well-credentialed group shipped to the quadrennial games, is only going to get better.

“By 2024 in Paris, these athletes already know what to do, what it takes,” he said.

And he is hoping that the young Nationals will carve a breakthrough here and whip up smashing success in the French capital.

Tolentino doubled down on his expectations that the country will end its gold chase here and also collect several other medals to top a three-bronze feat nearly a century ago.

In 1932, swimmer Teofilo Ildefonso, high jumper Simeon Toribio and boxer Jose Villanueva all made the podium in the Los Angeles Games.

This year, a website making Olympic predictions penciled the Philippines tabbing golds courtesy of world champions Carlos Yulo (gymnastics) and Nesthy Petecio (boxing), plus a silver medal from Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting).

“It’s not impossible for us to win two medals, hopefully, one is gold. Or maybe more,” Tolentino said.

The Philippines is also fielding pole vaulter EJ Obiena, the Asian champion and world No. 6 who is good for a podium finish, golfer Yuka Saso, the world No. 8 who recently smothered some of the best golfers in the world in the US Open, and boxer Eumir Marcial, tabbed by the Associated Press as a gold bet.

Of those athletes, only Diaz is an Olympic veteran, with Tokyo her fourth stint in the Summer Games.
The rest? Tolentino sees them cementing their road to Paris.

“Imagine the potential that will potentially be available for us three years from now in the Paris Olympics,” Tolentino said. “So that’s what we’ll be focused on.”

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