Olympics: Philippines Pins Gold Medal Hopes On 30-Year-Old Boxer

MANILA: Filipino boxers have contributed greatly to the Philippines’ medal haul in previous Olympic Games. That is why the country is pinning its hopes on Filipino boxer, Harry Tanamor, to end its 84-year gold medal drought.

With only days to go before the Beijing Olympics, Tanamor is training hard to get himself into top shape. As the lone Filipino boxer in the Philippine team, all eyes are on the 30-year-old in his bid for the elusive gold medal.

Since the Philippines joined the Olympics in 1924, Filipino athletes have won a total of nine Olympic medals, with boxing garnering two silver medals and three bronze medals.

With this track record in boxing, the Philippine Olympic Committee is confident that the country will finally be able to clinch its first Olympic gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Tanamor said he is more than ready to slug it out in the boxing ring.

“It’s different now because that was just my first time at the Olympics and I felt nervous. Now, I already have an idea of the game. My training is also more intense than before. I will do everything to bring home the gold medal,” the Filipino light flyweight said.

Competing in one of the most competitive weight classes in amateur boxing, Tanamor’s colleagues are hoping that the luck of the draw will favour him in his second stint in the Olympics.

Tanamor was only able to reach the quarterfinals in the 2004 Athens Olympics. He will need to win five matches to end the country’s gold medal drought.

“It’s really difficult to get a gold because you have to fight in several matches. It’s not just one, but many boxers from other countries. But if it’s really meant for you, you’ll be able to overcome the obstacles,” said Roel Velasco, a bronze medallist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

“We are optimistic and Harry is confident that he can knock down anyone who gets in his way to winning a gold medal. The Filipino boxer has the spirit of a warrior. We will fight until the very end,” said Pat Gaspi, Philippines’ national boxing coach.

More than US$333,000 awaits the first Filipino athlete who wins the country’s first gold medal.

– CNA/so

Channel News Asia

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