Philippines bets endure 48-hour journey

Abac Cordero - The Philippine Star

BUENOS AIRES – Except for those who flew in on their own and one who’s just about to arrive, the four other Filipino athletes vying in the third Youth Olympic Games needed over 48 hours to travel from Manila down to this stunning Argentine capital.

Nicole Marie Tagle of archery, Jann Mari Nayre of table tennis, Carl Jano Corpus of golf and Lawrence Everette Tan of fencing, with their respective coaches, arrived in this city, considered as the “Paris of South America,” Wednesday from the back-breaking trip.

“But our athletes remain in high spirits,” assured taekwondo athlete Pauline Lopez, a bronze medalist in the last Asian Games and now a YOG ambassador, who flew in with the group.

“They’re pretty relaxed now. They’re getting into the groove of things here. But it will get intense as the competition begins,” added Lopez ahead of Saturday’s opening ceremony for the 4,000-plus athletes, aged 15 to 18 years, from 206 nations.

Because of a delayed flight from Manila to Doha, the group missed their connecting flight to Buenos Aires, and had to spend a night in Qatar. Counting the nine-hour trip to Doha and another 20 hours to Buenos Aires, it took them two days to get here.

For most of the Filipino athletes here, they’ve never been farther away from home.

This is  only the third staging of the YOG, and the Philippines seeks to duplicate its feat in Nanjing, China in 2014, when Luis Gabriel Moreno won the gold in archery’s team event.

Golfer Yuka Saso, who won the individual gold in women’s golf in the 2018 Asian Games, flies in Friday from Manila. Kiteboarder Christian Tio had arrived from training in Costa Rica; swimmer Nicole Justine Marie Oliva flew in from the United States.

Chef-de-mission Jonne Go and Philippine Olympic Committee secretary-general Patrick Gregorio are arriving on the eve of the opening ceremony, which takes place outside a stadium, at exactly 6 p.m. around the Obelisco de Buenos Aires, a 235-feet high national historic monument at the Plaza de Republica and erected in 1936.

Tagle will break the ice for the Philippines when she competes on Sunday, followed by Oliva, an entry in eight swimming events, including the freestyle in 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m, the 100m and 200m back, and the 100m butterfly, beginning on Monday.

The Philippine secretariat has yet to release the final and official schedule of its entries. Competition among the world’s best young athletes runs until Oct. 18.

The cold weather in this nation of Pope Francis, Evita Peron, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi greeted members of the small Philippine delegation. The 10-day weather forecast shows a low of 10 degrees Celsius and a single-day high of 26 on Oct. 10.

“The weather is great. Athletes love to compete in this weather,” said Lopez.


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