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Caluag, Cray, Diaz lead Rio hopefuls
Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) - January 14, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Olympic Committee already has in its hands the names of Filipino athletes who have either qualified or have the potential of making it to this year’s Rio Olympics.

The Summer Games will take place on Aug. 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro, home to the famous Ipanema beaches, the colorful Carnival Festival and sexy samba. 

Heading the list is Daniel Caluag of BMX cycling, lone gold medalist for the Philippines in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, and runner Eric Cray, winner of two gold medals in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games.

A meeting was held yesterday among heads of the different sports clusters, including Romeo Magat of tennis, Tom Carrasco of triathlon and Jose Romasanta of volleyball.

Romasanta will be the Philippine chef-de-mission to the Rio Games.

Jose Cojuangco, POC president, asked the various national sports associations (NSAs), to submit the names for accreditation with the International Olympic Committee.

Magat said they were provided with 19 names with a handful others expected to be submitted in time for the March 28 deadline set by the IOC.

In case any of these athletes fail to qualify, their accreditation will be pulled out.

Others in the list are golfers Miguel Tabuena, Angelo Que, Jennifer Rosales and Princess Superal; weightlifters Heidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia; shooters Hagen Topacio, Amparo Acuna and Jayson Valdez; track bets Marestella Torres and EJ Obiena; boxers Mark Anthony Barriga, Rogen Ladon, Eumir Felix Marcial, Nesthy Petecio and Irish Magno; taekwondo’s Pauline Lopez and Sam Morrison and judo’s Kiyomi Watanabe.

Also eyeing slots are the Richardson twin sisters Kayla and Kyla.

So far, only Cray has officially qualified to the Rio Olympics although Magat said Diaz is bound for her third straight Olympic stint but is still “waiting for the official recognition” from the IOC.. 

“We’re looking at 16 athletes who can make it,” said Magat, recalling that in the 2012 London Olympics there were 11 Filipino athletes in eight disciplines and in the 2008 Beijing Olympics 15 athletes in eight sports.

The Philippines has not won a medal in the Summer Olympics since boxer Onyok Velasco bagged the silver in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. In 2014, archer Gabriel Moreno won the gold in the mixed team event of the second Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

“More or less those who will qualify for the Rio Olympics will come from this list,” said Magat.

ACIRC AMPARO ACUNA AND JAYSON VALDEZ ANGELO QUE ATLANTA OLYMPICS BEIJING OLYMPICS CARNIVAL FESTIVAL DANIEL CALUAG ERIC CRAY EUMIR FELIX MARCIAL MAGAT RIO OLYMPICS
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