THE PHILIPPINE team to El Salvador is complete, with teenage surfer Vea Estrellado rounding out the six-person team for the final qualifier event for the Olympics.
It will be held in El Sunzal, a beach town in the south of the Central American country, from May 29 to June 6.
The Gubat, Sorsogon native is the youngest representative in the Philippine team. Only turning 18 on October, she will join the country’s other top-ranked women’s surfers: SEA Games gold medalist Nilbie Blancada, as well as SEA Games bronze medalist Daisy Valdez.
On the men’s side are SEA Games silver medalist and La Union native Jay-R Esquivel, SEA Games bronze medalist John Mark ‘Marama’ Tokong (currently training in Australia), and longtime veteran Edito ‘Piso’ Alcala Jr.
All six surfers will be competing in the shortboard category.
The drastic changes to the sports calendar brought on by the pandemic has meant that the upcoming ISA World Surfing Games in El Sunzal would be the country’s final shot at qualifying for the Olympics in Japan.
“If we rank in the shortboard event there, or we’re the highest ranking Asians in the shortboard events, then we would be qualified for the Tokyo Olympics,” explained United Philippine Surfing Associaton president Dr. Raul Canlas to PTVSports.
Estrellado is a promising young surfer from the rising surf town of Gubat. She first learned to surf under the mentorship of Bidge Villarroya, who remains her coach up to now.