Members of the Philippine weightlifting and fencing teams arrived from respective qualifying tournaments in Tashkent, Uzbekistan Thursday night and were met by a simple but warm welcome from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
“Despite imposed lockdowns and curfews in Metro Manila, we wanted to honor our athletes who made the country proud, within boundaries of the safety protocols of course,” said PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez.
Much as Ramirez wanted a bigger welcome for the athletes, the PSC was limited by quarantine restrictions and instead held a simple welcome protocol at the driveway of the quarantine hotel drop-off and check-in points.
The Philippine weightlifting team brought home two gold, six silver and three bronze medals from the 2021 Asian Weightlifting Championships. On top of that, 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz also formalized her fourth appearance in the quadrennial Games just by participating in the said competition.
Diaz eventually placed fourth in the 55kg category in Tashkent but officially became the seventh Filipino to qualify in the Tokyo Games.
The country’s medal haul, however, was courtesy of Vanessa Sarno, Mary Flor Diaz, Elreen Ando and Kristel Macrohon.
Ramirez said the winning women lifters are set to receive incentives under Republic Act No. 10699, or the “National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.”
The other members of the PH lifting team are Elien Rose Perez, Margaret Colonia, John Febuar Ceniza and John Dexter Tabique.
The national fencers, on the other hand, secured a bronze medal through Samantha Catantan in the women’s foil event of the Asian-Oceanian Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Catantan, however, failed to secure an Olympic berth as only one slot is available per category.
She was joined in Tashkent by teammates Nathaniel Perez, Jylyn Nicanor, Hanniel Abella, CJ Concepcion and Noelito Jose.
Prior to leaving for Tashkent, the PSC approved granting assistance of over P4.9 million for airfare, hotel accommodation, allowances and other travel expenses for the weightlifting team.
The PSC also approved P1.2 million financial assistance for the fencing team to cover expenses for the competition.
Other Tokyo Olympic-bound Filipinos are gymnast Carlos Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obiena and boxers Eumir Marcial, Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio and Irish Magno.