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Paris on Kayla’s mind

HANGZHOU, China — Kayla Sanchez is competing in the 19th Asian Games with one thing on her mind: The Paris Olympics.

The 22-year-old Sanchez admitted that everything she does is focused on getting better for the Olympics, where she won a pair of medals while representing Canada in Tokyo.

“I’ve been working really hard. It’s been a tough two months and I’m hoping that I’m able to just lay out my first swim and get better and better leading to the Olympics,’’ Sanchez said.

Sanchez has yet to win a medal but she had shown flashes of brilliance in her maiden stint for Team Philippines on Sunday, helping the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay squad to a new national record.

Sanchez went full throttle after diving first, propelling the quartet also powered by Southeast Asian Games champions Xiandi Chua, Teia Salvino and two-time Olympian Jasmine Alkhaldi off to a great start.

They eventually finished fifth behind gold-medal winner China, which set a new Asian standard in the relay, silver finisher Japan and bronze performer Hong Kong.

Singapore placed fourth before the team finished in three minutes and 44.31 seconds, resetting the country’s 30th SEA Games record of 3:47.05.

“This is the first Asian Games where we are doing this as a team and I think this is a good starting point. We will learn and grow as a team,’’ Sanchez said.

Sanchez, whose mother is from Pangasinan and mother from Baguio, is looking at a broader perspective of giving the Philippines a medal in the Olympics.

After all, she has the credentials to back her outlook after helping Canada claim a pair of medals — a silver in the 4x100m freestyle and a bronze in the 4x100m medley relay — in the previous Summer Games in Tokyo.

“I just have to keep looking at the bigger picture. This is for the future and I have to start somewhere,’’ said Sanchez, who started training for the Olympics right after completing her residency in July.

She found a training camp in California along with a new training group which Sanchez feels could boost her stock to qualify for Paris.

“I love it. I’m really happy, the training suits me. I will stay there until before the Olympics and it should be enough to get me ready,’’ said Sanchez, who counts the 50m and 100m freestyle, the 50m and 100m backstroke as her line of expertise.

After breezing in the qualifying heats early Monday, Sanchez will contend for an individual medal in the women’s 50m backstroke in the evening finals along with Salvino.

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