Christian Tio defied the odds and bested a tough field to top the Iconic Kitesurfing Youth Olympic Qualifiers Asia/Oceania in Pranburi, Thailand Sunday, clinching the lone Youth Olympic Games berth in Buenos Aires, Argentina in October.
Tio, one of the country’s rising kiteboarding stars from Boracay Island, put up superb and consistent performances in the last two days of the five-day event which drew the best 15-18-year-old kiteboarders in the continent.
The Filipino ace finished with 26 points after 20 elimination rounds to beat Chinese Haoran Zhang (34 points) and local favorite Sarun Rupchorn (41), who took control in the early going but faltered in the last two days.
“It’s been a tough week,” said Tio, who will turn 17 tomorrow. “It’s been a goal to get to the Olympics and we’ve been waiting for kiting to get into the Games for sometime, so it feels pretty good to qualify and have the honor of representing my country.”
“Now I’m it, I’ll do my best to win it,” added Tio, son of pro kiteboarders Chris Mohn and Liezl Tio, and who honed his talent and skills in the annual Philippine Kiteboarding Association Tour.
Other Pinoy kiteboarders, whose YOG campaign was backed by ICTSI and Aboitiz Group’s Ming Juan, who vied in the qualifiers were Boracay locals Warner Janoya (16), Mark Magliquian (17), Remel Rentillo (16), Frean Yetyet (16) and Romblon’s Maebelle Gajisan (18).
“We’re all delighted with how our team fared in the YOG elims. This has been a triumphant moment for all of us Filipinos. Getting a slot in the YOG was no easy task and now that we’re in, this may be our chance of winning our first-ever gold in the YOG,” said PKA president and team manager Jay Ortiz.
“Tio’s feat is the culmination of all our efforts with the PKA Tour that we’ve been organizing the past five years as we aim to promote the sport and at the same time produce local talents for international competitions,” said PKA treasurer Carlo Leongson, also one of Team Phl coaches, who included Bong Fernando, Doque delos Santos, Ken Nakor and Swede Atte Kappel.
Chinese Jingle Chen took the lone YOG spot in the girls’ side, scoring 16 points to beat compatriot Kewen Li (32) and Thai Nicharan Rodthong (43.3).