THE NINE-ATHLETE Philippine contingent leaves for the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore tomorrow optimistic that it can measure up against the world’s finest athletes in the competition scheduled Aug. 14-26.
“We can feel the pressure but we’re very excited,” weightlifting bet Patricia Llena, tipped as the country’ s brightest hope for a medal, said Saturday during a sendoff party tendered by multivitamin company Pharmaton, one of the sponsors of Team Philippines.
The 16-year-old Llena, who has been given the honor as the country’s flag-bearer during the opening ceremonies, is competing in the 63-kg class.
The San Antonio, Nueva Ecija-born athlete will be joined in the Games by swimmers Jasmine Al-Khaldi and Jessie Lacuna, basketball players Ray Parks, Michael Pate, Chris Michael Tolomia, tennis standout Jeson Patrombon and taekwondo wild card bet Kirk Barbosa.
Llena, a world sub-junior champion in powerlifting, expects an uphill climb to win a medal with Kazakhstan, Russia and China sending their best bets to the competition.
“It’s going to be tough, but I prepared long and hard for the Youth Olympics,” said Llena, who took up the sport at four.
Swimming chief Mark Joseph, who will serve as delegation head, believes the respective National Sports Associations have done “pretty well” in preparing the YOG-bound athletes.
“You can never dismiss our chances of winning,” said Joseph. “In swimming, the times are so close and clustered.” Cedelf P. Tupas