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Bambol: Kayla will focus on Asiad

‘I have met with my coach, and we have decided it is best for me not to compete in Fukuoka.’

KAYLA Sanchez will banner the Philippines in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou. | photograph courtesy of CANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

Kayla Sanchez is skipping the World Aquatics Championships set to open in eight days in Fukuoka to concentrate on her campaign in the 19th Asian Games as a full-fledged Filipino athlete, according to Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.

Sanchez, 22, owns one Olympic silver and three world championships gold medals while swimming for Canada. She reverted to competing for her native Philippines last year.

Tolentino said on Wednesday that Sanchez, upon the advice of her coach, decided to focus on the Hangzhou Asian Games in September and no longer on the world championships set to start 14 July in Fukuoka, Japan.

“I have met with my coach, and we have decided it is best for me not to compete in Fukuoka,” Sanchez told Tolentino.

“This means I can be focused to medal in the Asian Games in September.”

“I have a very intense competition schedule after the Asian Games with another world championship and the Olympics,” she added.

Tolentino said he trusts Sanchez and her coach’s decision on competing in Hangzhou.

“Kayla’s a veteran swimmer, even at only 22, and she and her coach know what’s best,” Tolentino said.

Sanchez said she would want to wait for the full confirmation from World Aquatics on her eligibility to compete for the Philippines after having represented Canada earlier in her career, including at the Tokyo Olympics where she was part of Canada’s silver medal-winning 4×100 meters freestyle relay team.

“Before I withdraw from the competition I think we should wait until World Aquatics approves my transfer,” she said.

“At least then we know that I am 100 percent cleared to race for the Philippines in the Asian Games.”

Sanchez needed to complete a year’s residency in the country to complete her transfer.

She thanked Tolentino for facilitating her transfer.

“Thank you so much for helping me get the approval from World Aquatics,” she told Tolentino.

“And I think this is the best decision for me right now and I will make it count next year.”

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