NANJING – The Philippine campaign gets going in two events on Sunday as action in 17 of the 28 sports lined up for the second Youth Olympic Games kicks off in different venues here.
Triathlete Vicky Evania Deldio and swimmer Roxanne Yu will break the ice for the Filipinos who are ranged against the finest young athletes from around the world.
Deldio will be the first to compete when she answers the gun at 9 a.m. at the Xuanwu Lake triathlon venue and compete in the course that covers a 750-meter swim, 20-km bike and 5-km run.
The freshman student from University of the Philippines made it to this year’s YOG following a strong fifth-place finish in the qualifying event in Kazahkstan last June.
On the eve of her race, the 16-year-old Deldio, who hails from Subic, said she can feel the pressure of being with the best triathletes in the 14-18 age group.
“There’s pressure. But I’d rather feel it than be overconfident. It’s only normal to feel the pressure in this level of competition,” she said.
Deldio, who joined triathlon camps in China, Korea and Portugal last year as she sought a slot in this YOG, said she saw familiar faces in the venue which she has visited the last couple of days.
“The Asian competitors, I’ve seen them in the camps. But for those from the other continents, I just browse their names on the internet and look at their times,” she said.
Deldio knows that it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
“This is the Youth Olympics,” she said.
Over at the Olympic Sports Center Natatorium, which is almost an hour away from the triathlon course, the Filipina swimmer sees action in the 100-m backstroke heats.
It’s also a tough race for the 16-year-old Yu, now under scholarship at the British International School in Phuket, Thailand.
“I worked hard and waited long to qualify for this Youth Olympics and now I’m here to compete,” said Yu on Saturday afternoon at the Philippine quarters inside the Athletes Village.
Over 3,600 athletes from 202 nations are here to vie for the 222 gold medals stakes in 28 sports.
Yu was out training the past two days here under his Australian high-performance swim coach Simon Jones.
“She’s been swimming really well lately and she’s just getting stronger,” said Jones of Yu, who will also vie in the 200-m backstroke on Tuesday.
Yu said she will focus on her own race.
“I just want to my best here and make the most out of this experience. No expectations. I don’t want to pressure myself too much,” she said of the 10 a.m. heats.
Because of their morning schedule, both Deldio and Yu begged off from attending Saturday evening’s opening ceremony which may drag for hours.
“The majority of the swimmers from other countries will not be attending either,” said Jones.
Philippine chef-de-mission Jonne Go allowed the two athletes to just stay in their quarters and rest and prepare for their races.
Artistic gymnast Ava Loreign Verdeflor will see action in the quarterfinals on Monday while track and field’s Zion Rose Nelson will be in the 400-m heats on Wednesday.
Celdon Jude Arellano, the Philippine bet in men’s air rifle, will also see action Wednesday while the pair of Pinoy archers, Bianca Roxas-Chua Gotuaco and Luis Gabriel Moreno, will be on deck on Friday.