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    SLIM AND NONE: Here are great odds facing Filipino athletes in quest for Olympic medal

    Aug 7, 2016
    Filipino athletes are facing daunting odds in a bid to end a 20-year medal drought. Jerome Ascano

    THE Philippines has started its campaign in the Rio De Janeiro Olympics where the 13 athletes aim to end the country's 20-year medal drought in the biggest sports spectacle of the world.

    SPIN.ph takes a closer look at the chances of each of the Filipino athletes competing in the Rio Games. Admittedly, the chances of bringing home a medal for some of our delegates, especially in measurable sports, are slim. However, there are a few capable of surprising us, even with a bronze.

    Nevertheless, we join the nation in hoping for the best for all our Filipino athletes.

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    MARY JOY TABAL - women's marathon

    Olympic Record: 2:23.07 (2012 London Olympics)

    2012 London Olympics minimum time to medal: 2:23.29

    Tabal's qualifying time: 2:43.31 (-20 minutes and 2 seconds off the bronze medal mark in the London Games)

    Tabal made it to the Olympics by clocking 2:43:31 in a marathon event in Canada, breaking the standard of 2:45:00. The Cebuana athlete, however, is facing a daunting task in competing for a medal with Gladys Cherono Kiprono of Kenya having the best time among the qualifiers with 2:19:25.

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    JESSIE KHING LACUNA - men's 400m freestyle

    Olympic Record: 3:40.14 (2012 London Olympics)

    2012 London Olympics minimum time to medal: 3:44.69

    Lacuna's qualifying time: 3:55.34 (-10.65 seconds off the bronze medal mark in the London Games)

    Lacuna will be competing in the 400m freestyle with a time of 3:55.34. However, the best time among the 51 swimmers is Australia’s Mac Horton, who clocked 3:41.65. But just like Alkhaldi, Lacuna is aiming to improve his personal best in the Olympics, and a spot in the next round will be a bonus.

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    KODO NAKANO - men's judo 81kg category

    The surprise last-minute entry in the Philippine delegation, Nakano made it to the Olympics after an athlete from Iran backed out in the men’s 81kg category. However, as a replacement for an athlete who qualified, Philippine sports officials admit landing a podium finish is a tall order for Nakano.

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    IAN LARIBA - women's table tennis

    The country’s flag bearer in the parade of nations during the opening ceremony was the 11th and last qualifier for Asia in the Olympics, and naturally, her chances of a podium finish are small. But the format calls for a knockout tournament and Lariba, ranked 325 in the world in the latest world rankings, will have to pull off some upsets in order to get a medal.

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    MIGUEL TABUENA - men's individual, golf

    Golf makes its return to the Olympics in Rio where Tabuena qualified by virtue of his 37th place finish in the Olympic rankings after the cutoff. A lot of the top players have decided to pull out of the Olympics but the world number 140 will still have a mountain to climb in order to get a podium finish.

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    JASMINE ALKHALDI - women's 100m freestyle

    Olympic Record: 53.00 (2012 London Olympics)

    2012 London Olympics minimum time to medal: 53.44

    Alkhaldi's qualifying time: 55.94 (-2.5 seconds off the bronze medal mark in the London Games)

    Alkhaldi underwent training in Hawaii and later qualified in the Olympics by clocking 55.94 seconds in the 100m freestyle, way behind the qualification time of Cate Campbell of Australia, who clocked 52.38 seconds.

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    KIRSTIE ELAINE ALORA - women's taekwondo +67kg division

    Alora will be competing in the +67kg division of the tournament where she prepared for Rio by sparring with taller fighters. The 5-foot-8 Alora qualified to Rio after nabbing a silver medal in the Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament, losing to a taller Cambodian fighter in the final. Hopefully, Alora’s quickness will lead her to a podium finish.

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    MARESTELLA TORRES-SUNANG

    Olympic Record: 7.4 meters (1988 Seoul Olympics)

    2012 London Olympics minimum distance to medal: 6.89

    Sunang's qualifying mark: 6.72 (-.17 meters off the bronze medal mark in the London Games)

    Torres-Sunang was a late qualifier when she surpassed the women’s long jump standard by .02 meters, leaping for 6.72 meters in a meet in Kazakhstan. In comparison, Reese Britney of the United States had the best jump among the competitors, notching 7.31 meters.

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    ERIC CRAY - men's 400m hurdles

    Olympic Record: 46.78 seconds (1992 Barcelona Olympics)

    2012 London Olympics minimum time to medal: 48.1

    Cray's qualifying time: 48.98 (-.88 seconds off the bronze medal mark in the London Games)

    Cray had his best time of 48.98 seconds in the 400m hurdles event of the Madrid Masters last June, clearing the Olympic standard of 49.90 seconds. The season’s best time, however, is 47.79 seconds made by Nicholas Kiplagat Bett of Kenya.

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    NESTOR COLONIA - weightlifting men's 56kg division

    Olympic Record: 305 kg total (2000 Sydney Olympics)

    2012 London Olympics minimum weight to medal: 286

    Colonia's qualifying mark: 282 (-4kg off the bronze medal mark in the London Games)

    The Zamboanga City native stands fifth in the Olympic qualification ranking list of the 56kg division after lifting 282 kilograms in the combined snatch and clean and jerk events in last year’s World Championship. But Colonia needs to gain ground as he is 12 kilograms behind third-placer Kim Tuan Thach of Vietnam in the rankings.

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    HIDILYN DIAZ - weightlifting women's 53kg

    Olympic Record: 225 kg total (2000 Sydney Olympics)

    2012 London Olympics minimum weight to medal: 219

    Diaz's qualifying mark: 213 (-6kg off the bronze medal mark in the London Games)

    Diaz ranks fourth in the Olympic qualification list after lifting 213 kilograms and winning the bronze in the 2015 World Championship. And with second-ranked Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan being banned for using performance enhancing drugs, Diaz stands a good chance of a possible bronze medal and break the 20-year medal drought of the Philippines.

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    ROGEN LADON - men's boxing light flyweight division

    Boxing has always been the country's best chance for an Olympic medal, especially in Ladon’s weight division of light flyweight where Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco won silver in 1996. The good thing about Ladon’s bracket is that he only needs to win twice in order to reach the semifinals and be assured of at least a bronze medal. However, Ladon could face the possibility of facing Patrick Chagas Valerio Lourenco of Brazil, ranked number two in the world in his first fight. Also in his bracket is world number 10 Lyu Bin of China.

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    CHARLY SUAREZ - men's boxing lightweight division

    Suarez, who qualified after finishing second in the Asian Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament, is ranked ninth in the world, according to the latest Aiba rankings in the lightweight division. If Suarez hurdles his first bout against Joseph Cordina of Great Britain, he still have the likes of world number one Robson Conceicao of Brazil and world number two Berik Abdrakhmanov of Kazakhstan in his bracket, plus professional fighter Amnat Ruenrong of Thailand in the other half.

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    Filipino athletes are facing daunting odds in a bid to end a 20-year medal drought. Jerome Ascano
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