After months-long trainings and competing in regional qualifying matches, the 7 young athletes who will represent the Philippines in the 2014 Nanjing Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG) are all set for the multi-sport festival.
According to Jonne Go, Chef De Mission of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), the country should be proud of this YOG’s delegation since all the athletes worked hard to qualify in their respective sports events. They have their eyes set for the gold.
“They really underwent rigorous training. Even if we have less athletes to send this year, they’re very much qualified for the event. I know they’re going to do their best,” Go said.
During the inaugural YOG in Singapore 2010, the Philippines sent a 9-man team to the games. All of them brought honor to the country but none brought home medals.
“This time we’re getting better. We have younger athletes and there’s more awareness to the games,” she added.
The 2nd YOG will run from August 16 to 28, 2014 in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China.
Meet the Athletes:
The young Filipinos will compete in 6 sports events – triathlon, swimming, archery, track and field, artistic gymnastics, and air rifle. They are the following:
Victoria Deldio, 16 years old, will compete in the Triathlon event. “Expect that I’ll give my best on the race. I know its not going to be easy, other participants have been training for 2 to 4 years and I just started this sport a couple of years ago. But I’ll give them a good fight,” she said.
Bianca Gotuaco, 17 years old, will compete in Archery. “I naturally have a competitive attitude, whether towards sports or academics. I motivate myself by making goals. When I make goals, it keeps my mind off of failures, distractions or pressures,” Gotuaco said.
Gabriel Moreno, 16 years old, will also compete in Archery. “I will do my best and I won’t give up without a fight,” Moreno said of his expectations for Nanjing.
Roxanne Yu, 17 years old, will be competing in Swimming. “The country can expect a hundred percent effort coming from me. I will try my very best and do all I can to wear the flag’s colours proud,” Yu said.
Ava Verdeflor, 15 years old, will compete in the Artistic Gymnastics event. Asked what she will do in the YOG, she said: “I will do my best and enjoy every moment of it. I’ll give my greatest effort to make my country proud.”
Celdon Arellano, 16 years old, is a freshman Information Technology student who will compete in the Air Rifle event.
Zion Coralles-Nelson, 15 years old, is a Filipino-Canadian athlete who will compete in the track and field event. She won her ticket to the YOG in the regional qualifiers in Bangkok, Thailand.
The team is set to leave for Nanjing on Wednesday, August 13.
The road to Rio 2016
Compared to the regular summer and winter olympic games, the YOG is an equal playing field for the young athletes, Go explained.
“All the young athletes competing in the games would do so for the first time. It’s a very fair competition,” Go said.
She added that she is not setting her hopes up but is expecting the athletes to give their all. The YOG, after all, is a stepping stone to getting more qualifiers for the regular olympic games, the next one being Rio De Janeiro 2016 in Brazil.
“I believe that if we are really looking for the first olympic medal for team Philippines, then the YOG is where we should look. We should focus on giving our athletes experience and exposure in the YOG,” Go said.
The Philippines has yet to win an olympic gold medal. The last Filipino olympian who won a silver medal was Manuel “Onyok” Velasco for boxing in the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games.
“I suggest to all sports enthusiasts and government officials to support the YOG, especially in the coming years. We need to get more athletes to qualify in the events,” she added.
The Youth Olympic Games
The Nanjing games are the second the summer YOG to be conducted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Some 3,600 young athletes, aged 14 to 18, from 204 countries will compete in 28 sports events.
This is the first time that Rugby Sevens and Golf will be played in the event.
The YOG was initiated by the IOC to counter the growing concern of obesity and the drop of youth participation in sports in the past years. Aside from the sports events, young athletes will also participate in various education and cultural programs.
Successful olympians like South African swimmer Chad Le Clos, retired Chinese basketball player Yao Ming, and South Korean golfer Michelle Wie will attend the event as ambassadors to train and inspire the young athletes.
The ultimate goal, according to the IOC, is to promote awareness and acceptance of other cultures and eventually, peace through sports.