The last hurdle that blocks Kayla Sanchez’s road to the Paris Olympics had been removed.
The International Olympic Committee had formally informed Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino that it is waiving the three-year waiting period so that Sanchez can represent the country in the Summer Games next year.
Sanchez, who emerged with a silver and bronze medal for Team Canada in the previous Olympics in Tokyo, had decided to transfer to the Philippines to represent the native country of his parents, Noel and Susana, who hailed from Pampanga and Baguio City, respectively.
Sanchez announced her decision to switch nationalities on 22 July and underwent a one-year residency period before she could see action for the Philippines in the 19th Asian Games.
But making it to the Olympics wasn’t easy as she has to undergo a three-year waiting period before she could represent her new federation.
Fortunately for her, the IOC granted the POC’s request to waive the waiting period, making Sanchez eligible to don the national colors if ever she hits the Olympic qualifying mark or be endorsed by her federation as a wildcard bet.
“In view of the Olympic Charter, in particular Paragraph 2 of the by-law to Rule 41, the IOC Executive Board decided to consent to your request for exemption from the three-year waiting period and thus to confirm the eligibility (from a nationality perspective) of Ms. Kayla Sanchez to represent the Philippines at the Olympic Games 2024, subject to qualification,” IOC National Relations and Olympic Solidarity director James Macleod said in a letter to the POC dated 29 November.
In her first stint for the Philippines, the 22-year-old Sanchez failed to win a medal.
She, however, set two national records in the women’s 50-meter backstroke with 28.66 seconds and in the women’s 100m freestyle with a time of 54.69 seconds.
Still, it was a sign of good things to come as she is expected to make it to the Summer Games given the right training and international exposure.
For Sanchez to qualify in the Olympics, she has to clock in 24.70 seconds in the women’s 50m freestyle, 53.61 seconds in the women’s 100m freestyle and 59.99 seconds in the women’s 100m backstroke to make it into the French capital and play in her pet events.
She has until 23 June 2024 to register her times and earn an outright berth in the Paris Games.