Filipino qualifiers in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Ernest John “EJ” Obiena and Carlos “Caloy” Edriel Yulo, are being given full support by the Philippines’ sports agency in their bid to win the nation’s first gold medal in the international quadrennial games.
Champion athletes Obiena and Yulo, who both won gold while setting new records at the recent 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, are in training to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics to be held from July 24 to August 9.
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) announced in early January that they are providing support crews to both athletes as they train overseas, Obiena in Italy and Yulo in Japan.
PSC chairman William Ramirez said that a crew of doctors, psychologists, physiologists, and conditioning coaches have now been assigned to specific athletes when they compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Obiena’s support team joining him in Italy include his pole vault coach, Vitaly Petrov, assistant coach, his father Elmer, psychologist Sheryll Catsuga, and nutritionist Carol Lafferty.
Yulo, training under Japanese coach Munehiro Kugiyama with the support of the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines, has not yet hired his support staff in Japan.
The country’s two Olympics medal hopes will also be housed by the sports agency in Tokyo for the competition proper of the Olympics.
The 6-foot-1 Ernest John “EJ” Obiena is the first Filipino to enter the Top 10 of the World Pole Vault Rankings after his string of excellent performances in international meets in 2019 including his Olympic Standard-performance at the Salto Con L’asta In Piazza Chiari in Italy in September 2019, gold at the Jump and Fly – Baxter Meeting in Germany, a historic breaking of the 26-year-old record at the Asian Athletics in Doha, Qatar, and claiming the World University Champion title at the Napoli Summer Universiade Pole Vault Athletics. Obiena won gold while setting a new SEA Games record in December 2019.
In an earlier exclusive interview with GoodNewsPilipinas. com conducted after clinching his Olympics berth, EJ Obiena shared how he wished to discuss with Philippine sports officials about viable options for training. He has apparently been heard.
EJ also revealed his mission in his pole vault sports career.
“I want to let my fellow Filipinos know that there is pole vaulting. And I want to promote the event. and I want to show them that Filipinos are capable of being good in pole vaulting and that it can be a great source of medals for our country,” the University of Santo Tomas student said.
Caloy Yulo, who dominated the Men’s All-Around Gymnastics event while claiming his first SEA Games gold medal in December 2019, qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics while competing at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany last October. Days later, Yulo eventually won gold in the same sporting event to become the first Filipino and Southeast Asian to capture a World Gymnastics Championship.
Aside from Obiena and Yulo, several other Filipino athletes are vying for berths in the Summer Olympics including 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist female weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz who won her first SEA Games gold in the 30th edition of the biennial Games, 2019 AIBA Women’s World Featherweight Champion female boxer Nesthy Petecio who also won gold at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines together with AIBA Men’s silver medalist male boxer Eumir Marcial.
Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, cyclist Daniel Caluag, swimmers James Deiparine and Remedy Rule, taekwondo’s Pauline Lopez and Samuel Morrison, canoe’s Hermie Macaranas, and OJ Fuentes will compete in their respective qualifiers.
The Philippines’ FIBA 3×3 Men’s Basketball Team has also nabbed a spot in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
These athletes will also be provided the same treatments from the PSC from the time they qualify and at the Tokyo Olympics.
Filipino athletes are also seeing action at the ongoing Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Switzerland with alpine skier Ana Wahleithner and short track speed skater Julian Macaraeg competing until January 22, 2020.
With reports from Blesilda dela Cruz.
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