WITH all eyes now on the coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics, the Wrestling Association of the Philippines (WAP) is taking all steps necessary to ensure that Filipino athletes will continue to get “a fighting chance whenever they compete in international competitions.”
Despite limitations in training due to the coronavirus pandemic, WAP president Alvin Aguilar said the eight-man Filipino delegation to the 2021 World Juniors and Cadets grappling championships in Ufa, Russia, on Aug. 10-12 will be fit as a fiddle come fight time.
“The WAP is preparing for this major international competition for quite a while. With the consent of their parents, our athletes are doing online training almost everyday to stay competitive,” said Aguilar during the 111th edition of the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids OrganIzation in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom last July 22.
“Hopefully, we get several world champions there (in Russia). Lahat naman ng walong athletes, aged 13-16, na ipadadala natin dun ay ang mga best in our nationals. Lahat nakalaban na sa mga international tournaments that we hosted at lahat nanalo na ng gold medals,” added Aguilar in the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports zVommission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
One of these eight Filipino campaigners is Aguilar’s own son, Lucho, wno has already won several gold medals in international competitions in Taiwan and Singapore.
“Since this is already the world championships, talagang level-up na ito para kay Lucho at sa iba pa. Pati ang training namin, talagang level-up din. Luckily, madami ang tumutulong, madami ang sumuporta. We’re hoping for the best,” explained Aguilar.
“Kung hindi nangyari itong pandemic, our athletes would have been training and fighting in other countries even though we’re all self-funded. Naintindihan naman natin yun dahil Olympic year ngayon. But we have to continue to train and prepare, pati yun junior team dahil papasok na din ang grappling sa Oympics. Sa seniors team, we already finished 3rd or 5th out of 45 countries, so malaki ang chances pag Olympics na.”
Aguilar assured everybody that the WAP is strictly following all health and safety protocols bring imposed by the government thru the IATF to ensure the safety of all athletes.
“Sa practice pa lang, we’re tested before you enter. Pero yung iba, hindi na talaga umuuwi para maka-train. They actually lived in the gym with the consent of the parents. They (parents) come by every now and then to say hello, give food and give allowances.”
Although there’s no vaccination required sa Russia, all of our adults are vaccinated. Pero pagdating doon, of course, we know we have to be tested upon arrival. Our own IF has its own testing procedures na walang lalabas at walang papasok. Once we’re there, that’s it. We don’t leave until we bring our medals home.”
But before bringing home the gold in Russia, Aguilar talked about winning a gold in the Tokyo Olympics.
“I can feel this would be the first time na magkakaroon tayo ng gold in the Olympics,” claimed Aguilar.