Long-term plan in works to send PH wrestlers to 2028 Olympics


Filipino freestyle wrestler Jiah Pingot at the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games. Photo from Jiah Pingot’s Facebook

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippine national wrestlers received pairs of fighting shoes when they went to battle during the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games last May.

That act of generosity surely won’t be the last as it signals Go For Gold Philippines’ clear intention to help bring the country’s grapplers back to the world stage, specifically in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

“We’ve already discussed creating a program for 2028 (Olympics). We have been asked who among our athletes are capable of qualifying and sir Jeremy (Go For Gold PH founder) is willing to help until our athletes reach Los Angeles,” said national wrestling coach Efrelyn Calitis-Crosby in Filipino.

It’s been a while since a Filipino wrestler grappled at the Olympics and a thorough five-year plan to reach Los Angeles comes as a welcome proposition.

Freestyle wrestler Jiah Pingot is a prime candidate to join that elite core, having consistently claimed a silver medal for the past three editions of the SEA Games as well as Uzziah Asher Gulay, a 16-year-old prized find from Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

“We believe that like weightlifting and boxing, wrestling can bring honor to our country. We aim for no less than a gold medal in the 2028 Olympics. We will have a five-year road map to bring a pinoy wrestler to the highest of highs,” said Go.

Gulay has already begun to stack up his room with medals from both international and local meets after recently dominating the secondary boys’ 67kg freestyle event of the Palarong Pambansa last month.

His Palaro victory, however, paled in comparison to the two gold medals Gulay won last year in the 14-17 cadet -70kg and +70kg freestyle categories at the Singapore Beach Wrestling Fiesta in Sentosa, Singapore.

“Sir Jeremy and I will talk again and discuss the athletes who will be given support once the program is laid out,” said Calitis-Crosby.

The national wrestlers have consistently gotten support from Go For Gold since the 2019 Philippine SEA Games when they were provided with singlets and living quarters before the Olympic village opened up for the athletes at New Clark City in Tarlac.

“Never kaming hinindian ni sir Jeremy,’’ said Calitis-Crosby.

Apart from wrestling, the program has supported athletes in cycling, triathlon, sepak takraw, dragonboat, skateboarding, chess, basketball and volleyball, among others.

Florentino Tirante (men’s -52kg freestyle/Greco Roman) and Dean-Carlos Manibog (men’s -60kg freestyle) were the last Filipino wrestlers who figured in the Olympics back in 1988 held in Seoul, South Korea.

The Philippine wrestling team is hoping to break the long wait for another Filipino grappler to show up at the biggest sports spectacle in the world.

The five-year plan will reinforce that objective in LA 2028.

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