Three not one University of Baguio students will be going to Tokyo this July for the Summer Olympics which has been postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aside from Irish Magno, who has already qualified in 2019, Southeast Asian Games gold medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam may just get the ticket to the Japanese capital for the quadrennial event that will see Filipina boxers competing for the first time.
The Association of Boxing Alliance of the Philippines over the weekend has announced the cancellation of the world boxing Olympic qualifiers in Paris, France in June where Paalam and Petecio are scheduled to compete for seats to the Olympics.
But the event has been cancelled due to the unpredictable health and safety conditions due to Covid-19 that has raised the hopes of ABAP leaders of seeing the two boxers getting the slots.
ABAP secretary general Ed Picson is hopeful that the two pugs will automatically be seeded to the Olympics as both are ranked high in the world rankings in their respective weight divisions.
Petecio is ranked fifth while Paalam is 12.
Picson joined last week’s online meeting attended by boxing representatives from over 30 Asian countries, wherein the Task Force explained the decision during a one-hour presentation.
While, the Euro and Americas Olympic qualifiers would proceed and have been scheduled for May and June, respectively, the Asian side will be cancelled it was revealed during the online meeting.
In a release last week, ABAP president Ricky Vargas expressed hope of the two fighters chances of landing a set each as he said, “This might prove beneficial to our cause, since some of our boxers are ranked highly among those who have not yet qualified. I hope we get at least two more in Tokyo.”
The ABAP is awaiting the list for the Tokyo Olympics where the Asia-Oceania region is allotted six slots each in both weight categories.
“The reckoning is by continent. Since the Asians ahead of them already qualified, they are now No. 1 in their respective divisions in Asia,” Picson said.
If the two make the grade, they be joining middleweight slugger Eumir Felix Marcial and Magno (flyweight).
Petecio, Magno and Paalam have been with the rest of the national boxing team that has been training with the other Olympic hopefuls at the Inspire Academy in Calamba, Laguna. On the other hand, Marcial, who turned pro last year, has been training in Los Angeles since October last year.
Picson said the national squad is scheduled to leave for Thailand for a joint training camp late this month.
The best Pinoy boxers attained in the Olympics is a silver medal twice by Anthony Villanueva in 1964 and Mansueto Velsaco in the 1996 Atlanta.
Hector Begeo is the first UB athlete and first from Baguio and the Cordilleras to make it to the Olympics – in 1984, 1988 and 1992. The late judoka Jerry Dino of Saint Louis University made it twice, 1988 and 1992. While Eduard Folayang, Mariane Mariano and Benjie Rivera, all from the University of the Cordilleras, went to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Though wushu was a demonstration sport, Mariano and Rivera went home with bronze medals.