HOPING to familiarize themselves early with the atmosphere that awaits them in the 2012 Olympics, five Filipinos will avail of the Pre-Games Training Camp being offered for free by the London Organizing Committee (LOCOG).
Boxer mark Anthony Barriga, shooter Brian Rosario, swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Lacuna and trackster Maristella Torres are heading to London at least a month before the Games kick off to attend the special camp being introduced in the Olympics for the very first time.
The five Olympians departing on June 28 comprise the first batch of the Filipino contingent leaving for the Games, according to PH chef de mission Manny Lopez.
“Participating in the camp are fellow Olympians, and it's going to be held in world-class facilities under world-class atmosphere to be supervised by the respective international federations under an atmosphere of competition,” said Lopez, appearing as guest in the weekly PSA Forum.
“The Olympic event is very ecstatic, and athletes can easily be overwhelmed, especially the young ones. Kung bago ka talaga, mabibighani ka sa experience ng Olympiada,” added the Philippine Olympic Committee 1st vice-president.
Each National Olympic Committee will be provided with a budget of 25,000 pounds by LOGOC, not enough to fund the trip of all nine athletes comprising the PH delegation so far.
“(The budget) is not enough, sosobra ng konti, dahil medyo mahal ang gastusin sa London,” added Lopez, who nonetheless said the rest of the expenses will be covered by the proceeds from a fund drive held by the POC marketing team, and a minimal budget from the Philippine Sports Commission.
The rest of the PH delegation will follow suit in the succeeding days, with the last batch of athletes, including Filipino-Japanese judoka Tomohiko Hoshina, flying to London on July 19 together with Lopez.
The formal flag raising ceremony for the PH delegation is set on July 21 with Philippine Ambassador to United Kingdom Enrique Manalo invited as special guest of honor.
A send-off for the PH contingent will be held on June 25, where seven of the nine Olympians will be presented. An invitation has already been sent to President Aquino to be the ceremony’s guest of honor.
As of today, Lopez said technically, the country already has nine athletes earning Olympic berths, namely Barriga, Rosario, Hoshina, Alkhaldi, Lacuna, Torres, Rene Herrera, lady weightlifter Hidylyn Diaz, and Fil-Am BMX biker Daniel Caluag. Hoshina and Caluag are both based abroad.
The PH chef de mission referred to them as the country’s `Lucky 9’, whom he believed are all medal contenders.
Two more possible entries for the country are being eyed in the field of archery (with the ongoing qualifier in Ogden City, Utah) and boxing (through a possible wild card slot to be given to Asian Boxing Championship silver medalist Charly Suarez).
Lopez expects the PH delegation to be completed by July 9 at the latest.