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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

PBad sets sights on international tourneys following successful PBO

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The week-long 2024 Philippine Badminton Open concluded a week ago at the Gameville Ball Park in Mandaluyong City, following six intense days at the First Pacific Leadership Academy in Antipolo City.

The national team, Smash Pilipinas, dominated the podium as expected, led by men’s and women’s singles champions Jelo Albo and Mika De Guzman, respectively.

However, several other UAAP standouts, such as Ysabel Amora of National University (De Guzman’s runner-up), Kimberly Lao and Patricia De Dios of University of the Philippines (women’s doubles runners-up), and Kervin Llanes and RA Pedron (men’s doubles third-placers) from UP, also made notable contributions.

Nonetheless, the biggest story of this year’s PBO came at the very start, as more than 400 shuttlers registered for the five events on offer.

“The Philippine Badminton Association is super happy with the turnout of the PBO this year. We were so excited to see all of the players in action. We had over 400 players battling it out, and today in the finals, we saw the best of the best crowned as champions,” said Carla Lizardo-Sulit, Secretary General of the federation.

“It is really important for us to tap into as many clubs across the country as possible, so we were really happy with the representation we saw. We had players from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Hopefully, for future projects of PBad, we will continue to grow the network. We know that to develop badminton as one of the most popular sports in the country, we need the help of everyone,” emphasized the former Ateneo de Manila University standout.

Jude Turcuato, the First Vice President and Head of Sports at PLDT, was also pleased with the outcome of this year’s PBO.

He said, “For me, as part of PBad, the MVP Sports Foundation, and Smart, I’m happy that we were able to organize this PBO. It took a lot of effort from the federation and the badminton community. I’m happy that the participants signed up from all across the country.”

Turcuato highlighted how Clarence Villaflor, a former national juniors champion, resurfaced at this year’s PBO, comparing his journey to that of his men’s singles final opponent and eventual champion, Albo.

“This is really a good venue to discover talents like Clarence. Jelo actually went through a similar situation during the MVP Cup two or three years ago. He was also a walk-in, an undiscovered talent, and he made it to the finals and surprised a lot of people. So, with Clarence, it was the same thing. While it might not be a surprise to the badminton community, it was surprising in general that someone not from the national team reached the final,” he said.

With the PBO 2024 concluded, PBad shifts its focus to getting these talents to compete internationally and improve their rankings, with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

“For PBad, there are two main focuses. One is to prepare for the next Olympics in LA by securing resources to join more international tournaments to earn points and qualify. The other focus is our grassroots program, concentrating on our juniors’ program and schools to discover emerging talents,” Turcuato said.

Lizardo-Sulit shared the same sentiments and emphasized the continuous improvement of the national team program with the goal of achieving success in four years.

“We are trying to build a strong support system for our senior team to establish a high-performance program. This includes sending them to as many tournaments as possible. Competing almost every month in another country is one of the challenges of badminton, so we hope to strategize well and send them to the right tournaments to see results internationally,” she shared.

“We’ve been competing at Level 2 and Level 3 internationally and are already seeing results. We’re thrilled about that with our seniors and juniors. We are past the stage of just qualifying; we are now aiming for the podium. Our next goal is to graduate from Level 3, achieve results at Level 2, and eventually reach Level 1, which includes the Olympics,” Lizardo-Sulit concluded.

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