Another Fil-Am tanker makes it to Athens
- Abac Cordero () - July 13, 2004 - 12:00am
With exactly one month left before the start of the Athens Olympics, the number of competing Filipino athletes rose to 15 following the inclusion of another swimmer based in the United States.

Jaclyn Pangilinan, an 18-year-old residing in New Jersey, met the Olympic Grade B qualifying time of two minutes 35.99 seconds in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke when she clocked 2:35.01 last February.

According to her father Florante Pangilinan, Jaclyn posted her qualifying time during the US National Championships in Orlando, Florida.

Jaclyn also compete in the 2003 staging of the same tournament in College Park, Maryland, but failed to meet the Olympic Grade B standard of 1:12.59 in the 100 m breaststroke with her 1:12.82. She tried her luck in the same event in Florida but came in slower at 1:13.19.

The Maryland and Florida tournaments were both sanctioned by FINA, the world-governing body in swimming, as a qualifier for the Athens Olympics scheduled Aug. 13-29.

Jaclyn was the same swimmer mentioned by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Celso Dayrit as early as last month as a possible inclusion to the RP team. A member of USA Swimming Team, Jaclyn reportedly carries a Philippine passport.

Dayrit, the RP fencing president, was unavailable for comment. He’s in Taiwan attending an Asian Fencing Federation meeting where he is one of those being considered for a top position.

Just a month ago, 17-year-old Fil-American James Bernard Walsh met the Olympic Grade B qualifying time of 2:04.56 in the men’s 200 m butterfly when he clocked 2:04.13 at the Charlotte Ultra-Swim Championships last June 11. JB is based in Virginia with his Filipina mother Chona.

Pangilinan and Walsh now join two other swimmers in the RP delegation. They are Miguel Molina and Miguel Mendoza who are now in the US for the final phase of their preparations. They will go straight to Athens a week before the Games.

The other RP athletes bound for Athens are Harry Tanamor, Violito Payla, Romeo Brin and Chris Camat of boxing; Marie Antoinette Rivero, Tshomlee Go and Donald Geisler of taekwondo; Lerma Bulauitan Gabito and Eduardo Buenavista of athletics; Jethro Dionisio of shooting; and Jasmine Figueroa of archery.

The Philippines has never won the gold in the Olympics and each one of these 15 athletes will be chasing for all that fame, fortune and glory.

A gold medal, under Republic Act 9064, is worth P5 million, a silver P2.5 million and a bronze P1 million. Medalists, however, stand to receive more with President Arroyo saying that she would match the cash incentive as stated by the law.

Private sponsors are also expected to come in when the time comes with Samsung, the giant Korean electronics firm, also promising to provide a windfall in incentives. Boxers Anthony Villanueva (1964 Tokyo) and Mansueto Velasco (1996 Atlanta) are the only Filipino athletes to have won the silver in the Olympics.

ASIAN FENCING FEDERATION ATHENS OLYMPICS BOXERS ANTHONY VILLANUEVA CELSO DAYRIT CHARLOTTE ULTRA-SWIM CHAMPIONSHIPS COLLEGE PARK FIL-AMERICAN JAMES BERNARD WALSH FLORANTE PANGILINAN HARRY TANAMOR JACLYN OLYMPIC GRADE B
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