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POC hopes for as many as 25 Filipino Olympians in Paris

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino is hoping to see as many as 25 Filipinos qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, which would exceed the number of 19 athletes in the 2020 Tokyo Games.

In a media briefing held at Milky Way Cafe in Makati on Friday, Tolentino expressed his hopes of seeing more Filipino qualifiers for the Paris Games.

“We’re expecting 25, that’s the best estimate, including those who qualified na,” he said.

Tolentino added that as of now, there are already at least 13 qualifiers to the Olympics, even if not all have been officially announced.

Among those who have secured qualification are pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnasts Carlos Yulo and Aleah Finnegan, boxers Eumir Marcial, Nesthy Petecio, and Aira Vilegas, and weightlifters John Ceniza, Elreen Ando, Vanessa Sarno, and Rosegie Ramos.

The sports official added that there will also be at least three more athletes who will qualify in athletics and aquatics due to the universality rule, if none of them are able to qualify the regular way.

“Sa ayaw o sa gusto natin, ang aquatics, ang athletics may dalawa lagi na we call it universality. One female and one male in both athletics and aquatics. 'Yan 'yung pag hindi ka mag-qualify ng normal. May universality,” he said.

(Whether we like it or not, aquatics and athletics always have two slots due to universality. One female and one male in both athletics and aquatics.)

The two slots for swimming will likely go to Jarod Hatch and Kayla Sanchez, who Tolentino said were the best performing at their events.

In athletics, there is only one slot left allotted for the women's events as Obiena had already qualified on the men’s side. Tolentino, however, clarified that there are several bets in athletics that are still in the running through standard qualification, including Lauren Hoffman, Robyn Brown, and Kristina Knott on the women’s side and John Tolentino and Janry Ubas for the men.

There are also several more athletes in golf, cycling, shooting, judo, boxing, skateboard, rowing, and taekwondo that have shots at qualifying in the coming months.

Tolentino also mentioned Bianca Pagdanganan as a strong contender to qualify in golf.

In golf, the Top 60 in the world rankings will qualify for the Olympics, but only two athletes per country are allowed, which would disqualify many players ranked ahead of her.

“Bianca just needs to play and play and play,” Tolentino said.

—JKC, GMA Integrated News