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Bambol pinning hopes on Paris bets


Tolentino said anything is possible.


Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino is keeping his hopes high, knowing that Filipino athletes will deliver in the Paris Olympics.

Tolentino said early qualifiers EJ Obiena, Carlos Yulo, Aleah Finnegan and Eumir Marcial have what it takes to pull off shocking wins in the biggest and most prestigious athletic conclave in the world set from 26 July to 11 August.

Obiena, the second-best pole vaulter in the world, is expected to shine against taller, stronger foes from Europe and the United States.

He had major wins last year after winning gold medals in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games and 19th Asian Games in record-breaking fashions.

More than that, he already breached the six-meter mark, making him a force to be reckoned with in the Olympics.

But before he wins the country’s second Olympic gold medal, he has to beat Swedish powerhouse Armand “Mondo” Duplantis — the world record holder and reigning Olympic champion.

Tolentino said it can be done.

“Who knows, he might pull off an upset come D-Day. It all depends on their conditions,” Tolentino said in a recent radio interview.

“He already beat Mondo before. There’s no doubt that he can duplicate it. Let’s pray for that.”

Tolentino is also pinning his hopes on the gymnasts — Yulo and Finnegan.

Although Yulo parted ways with his Japanese coach, Munehiro Kugimiya, he is still displaying a solid performance in his international campaign, bagging gold medals in the parallel bars, floor exercise, and vault along with a silver and a bronze in the Asian Championships in Singapore last June.

He also claimed two golds and two silvers in the previous SEA Games, proving that he remains an elite artistic gymnast in Asia.

With a new Japanese coach on the sidelines in Tomoharu Sano, Yulo is expected to come up with a good preparation to finally nail his first Olympic medal.

“I hope he can stay healthy,” Tolentino said, noting that the 23-year-old pride of Manila has been suffering back and foot pains due to scary falls.

“If Caloy recovers, he can compete.”

The POC chief added that Marcial can also pull off an upset.

Pitted in a star-studded light heavyweight class that includes European champion Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine and two-time Olympic champion Arlen Lopez of Cuba, Marcial is expected to surpass the bronze medal finish he had in the previous staging of the Games in Tokyo.

But before he makes a return flight to the medal podium, Marcial has to overcome Toqtarbek Tanatqan of China — the hard-hitting boxer who denied him the gold medal in a very controversial fashion in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou last year.

Tolentino said anything is possible.

“He can beat him — no hocus-pocus,” he said.

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