POC aims to surpass Tokyo tickets

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
POC aims to surpass Tokyo tickets
Abraham Tolentino
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — It’s a long shot but POC president and Tagaytay City Mayor Bambol Tolentino is hoping to outnumber the Tokyo Olympic athletes for Paris with six tickets booked so far and 14 to go to eclipse the 19 2020 Games qualifiers.

“Hopefully, we can surpass the Tokyo number of athletes,” said Tolentino. In Tokyo, nine males and 10 females from 11 sports represented the country with the delegation delivering a historic harvest of one gold, two silvers and a bronze. The sure Paris qualifiers are World No. 2 pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnasts Carlos Yulo and Aleah Finnegan and boxers Eumir Marcial, Nesthy Petecio and Aira Villegas.

Tolentino said golf will claim a slot. POC deputy secretary-general for international events and National Golf Association of the Philippines secretary-general Bones Floro said Bianca Pagdanganan is “in good shape” to make the cut-off. There are 60 slots for women’s golf in Paris and in the latest world field rankings, Pagdanganan is No. 36. The deadline for qualifying is on June 24 for women. The top 15 world-ranked players will be selected but each country is limited to four golfers. The remaining 45 slots will be awarded to players ranked beyond the top 15 with a maximum of two per country. In the Rolex world rankings, Pagdanganan is No. 119. But factoring in the quota limitations for each country, her world field ranking moved up to No. 36. Yuka Saso, who competed for the Philippines in Tokyo, has changed representation but is not eligible for Paris due to the three-year residency requirement upon switching. The two Japanese golfers in the top 60 field rankings are No. 15 Nasa Hataoka and No. 17 Ayaka Furue.

Tolentino said he’s pinning his hopes on skateboarding, shooting, judo, weightlifting, aquatics, taekwondo, rowing, tennis, cycling and more from boxing and athletics to seal additional tickets to Paris. National swimming coach Pinky Brosas said it’s difficult to predict how many swimmers will be given universality slots.  “It’s hard to say for now,” said Brosas. “But we’ll submit as many candidates as possible. It’s actually in World Aquatics’ hands to select and they may choose one or two swimmers, depending on the availability of slots for A and B cut qualifiers.” In line for slots are former Canadian Olympian Kayla Sanchez, Xiandi Chua, Gerard Hatch, Thanaya de la Cruz and Teia Salvino.

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