By Jean Malanum

OLYMPIC TALK. Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino (center) presides over the first POC Journey to Olympic briefing at the Milky Way Restaurant in Makati on Friday (April 12, 2024). With him are Team Philippines chef de mission Jonvic Remulla (left) and POC secretary-general Atty. Wharton Chan. (Contributed photo) 

MANILA – Thirteen Filipinos have secured berths at the Paris Olympics while more are hoping to qualify for Team Philippines, which is celebrating its 100th year participation in the Games.

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has formalized negotiations with a month-long training camp in a world-class facility at Les Arenes de Metz in France ahead of the July 26 to Aug. 11 Paris Olympics.

“We have, as of now, qualified 13 athletes for Paris,” said POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino during the first POC Journey to Olympic briefing at the Milky Way Restaurant in Makati City on Friday.

Those who earned direct qualification to Paris were pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena; boxers Eumir Felix Marcial, Nesthy Petecio and Aira Villegas; weightlifters Vanessa Sarno, Erleen Ann Ando and John Febuar Ceniza; and gymnasts Carlos Yulo and Aleah Finnegan.

Tolentino said weightlifter Rosegie Ramos is technically qualified in the women’s 49 kgs class although she is No. 11 in the world rankings after the Phuket World Cup, the final Olympic qualifying event for weightlifting.

“A Belgian [Niña Sterckx] ranks No. 7 in Rosegie’s class, but she lacks the mandatory six qualifiers for Paris, and according to weightlifting’s international federation, Rosegie’s technically qualified,” said Tolentino, the cycling federation president.

The POC chief said swimmers Kyla Sanchez and Jarrod Hatch have qualified under the universality rule. The 13th qualifier is in women’s athletics also via the universality rule.

Hoping to qualify are Robyn Brown (athletics), Kurt Barbosa (taekwondo), Cris Nievarez (rowing), Joanie Delgaco (rowing), brothers Keisei and Shugen Nakano (judo), Yuta Watanabe (judo), Jericho Francisco (skateboarding), Patrick Coo (BMX cycling), Shagne Yaoyao (MTB cycling), Emma Malabuyo (gymnastics), Bianca Pagdanganan (golf) and Carlo Paalam (boxing), Criz Laurente (boxing), Hergie Bacyadan (boxing) and Rogen Ladon (boxing).

Tolentino also announced Cignal as the official sponsor of the Les Arenas Metz training camp, Peak as the official apparel for the camp and pre-Olympic preparations, with Smart and Standard Insurance as major backers.

He said the Les Arenes de Metz training camp is the first in POC history. “This is the first time that our Olympians are immersing themselves in the host city of the Olympics for a month.”

National sports associations whose athletes are still qualifying for Paris were also present at the briefing.

Tolentino was also joined in the briefing by Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla, who will serve as Team Philippines chef de mission, and POC secretary-general Atty. Wharton Chan. (PNA)