LONDON – Seven Filipino athletes preparing for the 30th Olympic Games plunged into the second week of their training camp at three world-class venues here, free of any health concerns and thankful for the positive results gained so far from the experience.
According to Team Philippines administrative officer Arsenic Lacson, practically everything went smoothly in the first week of the three-week buildup during which the Filipino athletes trained side by side with Olympians from the host nation and several other countries.
“They’re doing well and extremely happy to have availed of the camp. Everybody is fine and healthy,” said Lacson after a visit to one of the elite training sites.
The first two PH athletes who got a taste of what it was like to train alongside Olympians from Britain, Singapore and Estonia at the Surrey Sports Park were Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Khing Lacuna, who will see action in the 100-meter freestyle and 200-m free, respectively.
“It’s really a good opportunity to train with them. Kaya sinabi ko kina Jessie at Jasmine na sabayan at dikitan lang sa lapping para mahila sila at masubukan sa training,” said swimming coach Carlos Brosas.
Over at the centuries-old Churchill shooting range inside the vast West Wycombe estate on the fringes of the London, skeet shooter Paul Brian Rosario got kind words from coach Gay Corral and shooting sports psychologist Lesley Goddard.
“The effect of this camp with Brian is impressive. He now shoots with deliberation and has learned stress-relieving techniques,” said Corral. “Through Lesley’s experience, Brian has raised the bar in his performance. He has a lot to learn but was quick in absorbing.”
Pleased with the positive results of the camp, PH team chief of mission Manny Lopez, who is due to leave early next week, said he’s confident that the experience gained from joining the camp “will serve our athletes in good stead when the battles begin.”
The other Filipinos training here are boxer Mark Anthony Barriga, weighlifter Hidilyn Diaz, long jumper Marestella Torres and 5,000-m bet Rene Herrera, accompanied by coaches Roel Velasco (boxing), Tony Agustin (weightlifting) and Joseph Sy (track and field).
In a heartwarming gesture, Philippine embassy officials led by Rey Catapang and members of the Filipino community brought Pinoy food to Diaz and Barriga when the two athletes found the local cuisine not to their liking in the first few days.
“Nagdala ng Pinoy foods. Parang hindi pa sanay noong una ‘yung dalawa (Hidilyn and Barriga) sa pagkain dito,” Lacson said.
The last to check into the camp, Torres, training mostly in the afternoon, said she and Herrera have adjusted to the London environment especially at the sprawling Guildford Spectrum where they camp.
“Tuloy tuloy na ang ensayo at maganda naman ang tinatalon ko. Adjusted na ako sa place at sa weather,” said Torres, looking confident of doing better this time after a forgettable showing four years ago in Beijing.
Herrera, competing in his first Olympics, found the atmosphere suited to his taste.
“Ang sarap tumakbo dito. Very relaxing,” said Herrera, who spent the first few days training with Olympians from Qatar, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Malta and Nigeria.
The others members of the PH team supported by ICTSI, Bank of Philippine Islands, Petron, Mizuno, Samsonite, Philracom, Smart Sports, TV5 and Philippine Sports Commission are judoka Tomohiko Hoshina, BMX rider Danny Caluag and archers Mark Javier and Rachelle Ann Cabral.
Since qualifying to the London Games late and missing the camp, Cabral and Javier have decided to undergo a 10-day buildup in South Korea under the supervision of former Olympian Chun Jae Hun.
Caluag, a Fil-American who is expected to figure prominently in the medal race, is presently training in the Netherlands while Hoshina, whose mother is a Filipina from Bulacan, is honing his skills in Japan.