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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Velasco identifies deserving athletes

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MARIYA Takahashi, who topped the women’s under 70 kg judo event, in the recent 2017 Southeast Asian Games, has been added to a long list of athletes the Philippine Sports Commission is considering to support until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In her debut in the Games, the 16-year-old Fil-Japanese judoka overcame defending champion Surattana Thongsri of Thailand, winning by ippon in 48 seconds.

Because of this, National Training Director Marc Edward Velasco, has put her in the last of national athletes that he will be closely monitoring.

Velasco believes that Takahashi can be among the initial five athletes that should have the full support of the agency till the Olympiad.

“It’s still a long list of athletes that I’m looking at,” said Velasco, who was tasked by PSC chairman William Ramirez to monitor athletes PSC can help prepare for the Olympics.

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So far, the agency is planning to trim its list of priority athletes to 25.

PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez said it’s not up to the PSC to choose the national athletes it will support till the next Olympics.

Instead, it will be the national sports associations which will identify the athletes who deserve such support from the PSC.

Also included in the list of sure bets are weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, trackster Trenten Beram and gymnast Kaitlyn de Guzman.

Most of the athletes included have won medals in the SEA Games.

A total of 24 gold, 33 silver and 64 bronze medals were collected during the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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