While majority of the Filipino athletes gearing up for the Tokyo Olympics are already in a face-to-face bubble training in Calamba, Laguna, those who will vie in this year’s Southeast Asian Games are still restricted to online training.
National training director Mark Velasco on Tuesday said the Philippine Sports Commission is still working on the clearance from the IATF to allow the athletes for the SEA Games in Hanoi in November to undergo face-to-face training.
“We need the IATF clearance for that. (PSC) Commissioner Ramon Fernandez (SEA Games chef de mission) is working on that,” Velasco told the online version of the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
Only those who are either qualified or seeking slots to the Tokyo Games are allowed to enter the bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba.
Olympic-bound athletes like gymnast Caloy Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, boxer Eumir Marcial and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who is set to formalize her entry to the Tokyo Games, have been training overseas for quite some time now.
Velasco said they expect no more than 60 persons to join the Calamba bubble, including athletes and coaches from boxing, karatedo and taekwondo. Most of these athletes are preparing for Olympic qualifiers that will run until June.
Karate Pilipinas, Inc. president Richard Lim also graced the forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Go For Gold, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
Lim thanked the PSC and the IATF for giving his athletes the chance to train for the Olympic qualifiers. He understands the health and safety protocols being implemented by the government, which has limited the movements of the other athletes.
“We have to prioritize the safety of everybody. I think everybody (SEA Games rivals) is in the same situation. Health is our primary concern. November may still be far but for an athlete preparing for the SEA Games that’s near,” said Lim.
Velasco is hoping that sooner or later, with the vaccine on hand, even those vying in the SEA Games, where the Philippines will try to defend the overall crown, will be allowed to go full blast in training.
Under normal times, Velasco said it takes an athlete a full cycle of 21 weeks of training. But with no international exposure due to all the travel restrictions, Filipino athletes may need longer than the normal cycle to reach peak form in time for the SEA Games.
“That’s why we are planning the best timetable for them. With no foreign exposure we need longer training cycles,” said Velasco.