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PH athletes welcome Olympic postponement


Olympics-bound pole vaulter EJ Obiena and boxer Irish Magno vowed to continue their training even after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach agreed on Tuesday night to postpone the Summer Games in Tokyo due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“I just need to be prepared even if it (Olympics). In any year it would be done, I need to be ready,” Obiena, 24, told The Manila Times in an online interview.

“We should keep looking on the positive side and just try to do what we can,” he added.

Olympics-bound pole vaulter EJ Obiena FILE PHOTO

The athletics stalwart emerged as the first Filipino athlete to clinch a spot in the Summer Games after coming through with a gold-winning 5.81-meter jump in the 2019 Salto Con L’asta in Piazza Chiari in Italy.

Shortly after posting a record 5.45m performance in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, Obiena returned to Italy to resume his training under Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov, mentor of former Olympic champion Sergey Bubka.

For her part, female pugilist Magno also stressed that her preparations for the Olympics never stop.

“Tuloy-tuloy pa rin po ang training namin. Pero ngayon po, naka-home quarantine pa po kami kaya self-training lang po muna (Our training is continuous. But for now, we’re doing self-training because we’re on a home quarantine),” the 28-year-old Magno The Manila Times in an online interview.

Magno punched her ticket to the Games after beating Sumaiya Qosimova of Tajikistan via a unanimous decision in their flyweight box-off in the 2020 Asia and Oceania Olympic Boxing Qualifiers held in Amman, Jordan, last March 11.

Besides Magno and Obiena, world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxer Eumir Felix Marcial are the other Filipino athletes who have qualified for the Olympics, which was rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer in 2021.

Meanwhile, 2016 Rio Olympics silver-winning weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz expressed her disappointment over the postponement of the Tokyo Games, but also affirmed her commitment to train.

“I can’t deny the fact (that) I am disappointed (over) the postponement of Tokyo 2020 and I left everything on hold in preparation for the Olympics,” said Diaz in a post on her Facebook page. “I cannot be selfish thinking of the frontliners risking their lives to save people who are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“On a positive note, I’m kinda relief not to worry that I can’t hold the barbell and do heavy weights for (the) last couple of days because of quarantine and have one more year to prepare for the Olympics,” she continued. “One thing I know is that to me and #TeamHD, giving up was never in our vocabulary. We are almost there and we can make it through.”


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