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No bubble training yet for athletes as SEAG staging in limbo

NO BUBBLE TRAINING YET. The Kurash National Team and all athletes have to await the decision of Southeast Asian Games host Vietnam whether to push through or postpone with the biennial games late this year due to the spike of Covid-19 cases in the capital city of Hanoi. Estie Gay Liwanen (2nd left) says that the 20 athlete-coaching staff of the kurash team is ready including recently acquired Helen Aclopen (3rd left), a bronze medalist in the 2019 SEAG in sambo. Photo shows the sambo squad members from Baguio, Jedd Kim, Helen Dawa (2nd right) and Marianne Mariano (right) with Silahis ng Pasko coordinator Fritzgerald Padilla during the 2019 KISLAP awards. Pigeon Lobien photo

The start of bubble training for Southeast Asian Games bound athletes is put on hold as the Philippine Sports Commission awaits the decision of the Vietnamese government if it will push through as scheduled or not mid the continued surge of Covid-19 cases in said country especially in Hanoi.

“Hindi pa sure kasi di pa nagrelease ang host country (Vietnam) if postpone o hindi (It’s not yet sure since the host country has not released any decision whether to postpone or not),” said 2019 SEAG gold medalist Estie Gay Liwanen as she seeks another medal, if not, another gold, the 2021 edition late this year.

“Wala pa rin. Medyo 50-50 samet SEAG. Issu nga awan pay bubble me (Now [news] yet. It is a 50-50 chance if the SEAG will push through. That is why we have no bubble [training] yet,” said taolu specialist Daniel Parantac of the Philippine Wushu Federation.

Moreover, the wushu teams have not yet been jabbed, a requirement for national athletes before undergoing the three month planned bubble training.

“We have not been vaccinated yet,” said Parantac, who said training will definitely be in Manila for his squad that include Thornton Lou Sayan and Jones Inso for taolu and sanda’s Divine Wally and Gideon Fred Padua.

The PSC had been awaiting the host country’s decision and was supposed to hand it down a week after June 9 but it could come out with a verdict by July 9, reportedly.

The kurash national team is set to here at a place they will be renting soon, said Liwanen.

The team will have 20 counting both athletes and coaches and staff.

Four Baguio athletes will go bubble training that will include 2019 sambo bronze medalist Helen Aclopen, Charmea Quelino and former University of Santo Tomas judoko standout Russel Lorenzo, son of 1997 SEAG judo silver medalist Racquel Lorenzo.

“I’ve moved to kurash (fron sambo),” said Aclopen, a University of Baguio trained judoka like Liwanen.

The SEA Games Federation during its June 9 virtual meeting to discuss postponing it to next year, which was thumbed down by eight countries, including the Philippines against two for and one abstaining.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham Tolentino, in earlier reports, said the athletes are already thinking about the biennial meet and that a hefty PHP200 million budget has been set for it.

He said: “It’s unfair to the athletes who have already sacrificed their time and effort in training for the SEA Games. “Athletes are also preparing for the Asian Games, Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, and Winter Olympics next year. So it’s very difficult for the SEA Games to be postponed.”

Vietnam and Myanmar, now in the midst of a political unrest, favored postponement, while Laos abstained.

Even Vietnam is hesitant of postponing the biennial meet, Tolentino bared, because infrastructure-wise, everything is now set.

“But the pandemic has raised the alarm,” he said.

“The final decision will be known next week,” Tolentino said.

Tolentino is chair of the Samahang Kickboxing ng Pilipinas whose athletes have already started bubble training in La Trinidad.

The Muay Thai Association of the Philippines national athletes are also bubble training at the Benguet State University.

On the other hand, chef de mission Mon Fernandez said he will respect whatever decision Vietnam will make.

He believes that a postponement might even favor the Filipino athletes in terms of training and Covid-19 vaccination.

The POC eyes sending 626 athletes in 39 sports in this year’s SEA Games that will be played between November 21 and December 2.

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