BEIJING – The main bulk of Team Philippines set foot here Tuesday, oozing with confidence and in high spirits three days before the 2008 Beijing Olympics formally comes off the wraps in this country of 2 billion people.
RP chef de mission Monico Puentevella led the Filipino contingent composed of 11 athletes and three top sports officials, who arrived in the bustling Chinese capital at around 11:30 a.m. following a four-hour flight from Manila via Philippine Airlines.
At the airport to meet the delegation was Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) spokesperson Joey Romasanta.
“All are accounted for. It was a smooth trip and the athletes looked fine and in great shape,” he said.
Filipino athletes included in the group were boxer Harry Tañamor, swimmers Miguel Molina, James Walsh, Joan Christel Simms, Ryan Arabejo and Daniel Coakley, divers Sheila Mae Perez and Ryan Rexel Fabriga, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and long jumpers Marestella Torres and Henry Dagmil.
Officials who accompanied them aside from Puentevella were shooting association president Art Macapagal, POC secretary-general Steve Hontiveros and Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) president Manny Lopez.
“The weather is fine here, a little bit hot like in Manila,” said the 30-year-old Tañamor, one of the country’s best bets for a first ever Olympic gold medal.
After a 20-minute ride, the group checked in at the Olympic Village where RP administrative official Moying Martelino welcomed them.
When finally settled in their respective rooms inside the vast complex of high-rise apartments, the Filipinos had their first sample of the sumptuous lunch in the Village before taking their needed afternoon rest.
“All our athletes are in fighting form. It will be tough but these 15 athletes have trained hard and prepared for this Olympics,” said Puentevella.
The arrival of the 11 athletes left taekwondo jins Antoinette Rivero and Tshomlee Go as the only ones unaccounted for in the delegation. The pair of medal hopefuls are set to leave Manila on Aug. 11 since their events will start on Aug. 20.
“We have high hopes in boxing and taekwondo. With a little bit of luck and talent, I think they would deliver,” said Puentevella.
Archer Mark Javier and shooter Eric Ang were included in the second batch of Filipinos to arrive here.
Another party to be led by President Macapagal-Arroyo is leaving Manila tomorrow.
Blog Credits: Rudy Santos, The Philippine Star