Veteran Richard Gonzales and fellow national players John Mari Nayre and Ian Lariba eye for Rio Olympics berths when they compete in the Asia Table Tennis Olympic Qualifying tournament slated on April 13 to 17 in Hong Kong.
The three are under the tutelage of Korean coach Kwon Mi Sook.
“I’m confident he [Gonzales] can qualify in this year’s Olympics together with Nayre and Lariba,” Table Tennis Association of the Philippines President Ting Ledesma said.
“Gonzales is really in good condition despite his age . He remains the country’s No. 1 player in the men’s side after dominating the recent Philippine National Games,” Ledesma added.
“I will just do my best to reach the Olympics. It is a dream for every athlete to play and represent their respective countries in the Olympics,” said Gonzales, a two-time Southeast Asian Games men’s singles open silver medalist.
Gonzales and Nayre will compete in the men’s singles open class, while Lariba, the country’s No.1 female player, will play in the women’s singles category.
Neo Brightside Christian Academy International School director Gilbert Roh, according to Ledesma, will support the campaign of the Philippine team in the five-day tourney.
The Philippine men’s team improved its world ranking from No. 79 to No.65 out of 220 countries. The women’s team, on the other hand, also improved its rank from No. 62 to No.59 after competing in the World Team Table Tennis Championship in Shah Alam, Malaysia recently.