Other Sports and the Olympics

By Joel B. Belinan

As of this writing, the sports world at least in this country and in our Baguio-Benguet area has not yet gone back to where it was before the middle of March. Perhaps it will never be able to. While some Gyms according to information had opened, resumption of their classes on combat sports and even traditional martial arts have not really commenced as they are still awaiting guidelines from the authorities.
Watching the news last Monday I saw this one about a Filipino who became the country’s first chess world champion in the person of FIDE Master Sander Severino. He won the title last June 19, 2020 on a Rapid (10 min.+10 sec.) Online IPCA (International Paralympics Chess Association) World Chess Championship. Sander Severino who is a physically challenged athlete is actually a veteran in paralympic games winning several medals for the country. His latest win however is the most prestigious as he beat the four year consecutive world champion and international master at that, Igor Yarmonov.
Why my sudden interest on chess, a mental game? No I am not about to depart from my usual physical martial arts. These recent years however saw the emergence of Filipino athletes making waves in the usual not so popular sports in the Olympics the Asiad and even in the Asean games. Remember that Cebuano who won the skateboard gold medal? With a country starving for a gold medal in the Olympics, giving some attention to this kind of sports might be the answer. No we are not suggesting abandoning the boxing program to which for more than a century, we been been pinning our hope. But adding the non-traditional line of events will not hurt us.
Talking about the Tokyo Olympics (Summer Olympics) everybody knows that it has been moved to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.. Just a few days ago, Coach Boy Catolico shared to me a video of Eumir Marcial (previous fights) of the Philippines boxing Team. Marcial has already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics under the 69-75 Kg weight category. Coach Boy Catolico described Marcial as one of the country’s best medal prospect in the upcoming Olympics. Coach Boy for sure knows what he is talking about, he being a long time boxing coach of our women’s boxing team before accepting the job to coach the Vietnam Women’s Boxing Team. There are of course other Philippine athletes who already qualified for the Olympics whose names I cannot recall. We have qualifiers in taekwondo, weight lifting, and gymnastic to name a few.
While the whole World is still busy combating Covid-19 It is worth noting that at least in our locality, we have yet to hear of any of our athletes (professional and amateur) having been infected by this virus. I saw an FB post from our famous MMA-Team Lakay saying that they had undergone tests and all turned out negative. Let us keep it that way by observing all the health protocols in our day to day life. This is unlike in the other countries where some famous basketball and football stars were reported to have contracted the virus though they were able to recover immediately. **
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