SHOOTER Brian Rosario and swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Khing Lacuna make up the first batch of Filipino athletes leaving on Friday night for Hong Kong en route to London to join a free training camp ahead of the 30th Olympic Games.
The three Filipino Olympians are going to train in the company of other athletes from other nations during the three-week camp set in “world-class venues under a world-class atmosphere’’ courtesy of the London Organizing Committee for Olympic Games (LOCOG).
“It (training camp) will definitely be of great help to our athletes. They will get a feel of how it is to be in the Olympics,” Philippine team chief of mission Manny Lopez said on Thursday.
Leaving with them on board a Cathay Pacific plane first bound for HK before taking off for a long 16-hour journey to the British capital are swimming coach Carlos Brosas, shooting mentor Josefina Mauricio-Corral and administrative officer Arsenic Lacson.
Lopez, who is also the Philippine Olympic Committee first vice-president, said joining the camp will also help the Filipino bets acclimatize early with the environment awaiting them in London.
“The earlier they go there, the better for them. Besides, they will train alongside athletes whom they can possibly play against in the Olympic proper,” he said of the PH team, which is supported by ICTSI, Bank of Philippine Islands, Mizuno, Samsonite, Petron, Smart Sports, Philippine Sports Commission and Philracom.
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, long jumper Marestella Torres, steeplechaser Rene Herrera and boxer Mark Anthony Barriga will also join the camp, which is free of charge and introduced in the Games for the very first time.
Next to leave for the camp is Diaz, who will join the team on July 1 along with her coach Antonio Agustin, while Torres, Herrera and athletics coach Joseph Sy follow suit three days later on July 4. Barriga and mentor Roel Velasco leave on July 5.
The rest of the 11-member PH squad – judoka Tomohiko Hoshina, archers Rachel Anne Cabral and Mark Javier, BMX rider Daniel Caluag, cycling official Stephanie Barragan and coaches Chung Jae Hun of archery and Yasuhiro Sato of judo – are scheduled to take off on July 19.
On Monday night, the PH team was treated to a lively sendoff party in which President Aquino challenged them “to shock the world once more’’ in a speech read for him by Energy secretary Rene Almendras.