PH boxers aim for top spot in 2019 SEA Games

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine boxing team is eyeing to reclaim the top spot in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Head coach Roel Velasco said before the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Amelie Hotel Manila that the Filipino pugs are capable of surpassing the lackluster 2-gold, 1-silver, and 2-bronze medal finish the country achieved in the last staging of the event held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

"Malalagpasan natin 'yung ginawa nila sa Malaysia, lalo na at tayo ang host this December," said Velasco, a bronze medalist in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

(We'll be able to surpass the performance in Malaysia, especially since we're the host of the SEA Games in December.)

The Philippines last claimed the top spot of the SEA Games boxing tournament in the 2015 Singapore games with a 5-gold, 3-silver, and 2-bronze haul. 

The boxers themselves will make sure that they will be ready for any opponent coming their way, as all of them aim to bag gold medals. (WATCH: Rappler Talk Sports: SEA Games boxers John Marvin, Eumir Marcial and Mario Fernandez)

"We prepare for the best in the whole of Southeast Asia. Our training is hard, they push us hard. We have to be prepared for whoever we end up drawing," said 2017 SEA Games light-heavyweight gold medalist John Marvin, who is a member of the British Army. 

The 26-year-old Fil-British, though, revealed that he would be training with the Philippine team until the SEA Games kicks off in order for him to stay focused on his SEA Games performance, and possibly, an Olympic berth.

"[Nothing] less than a gold medal. I'm after that gold," added Marvin.

Coming off an injury, young boxing star Eumir Felix Marcial is only focusing on the 2019 World Championships this September in Yekaterinburg, Russia, and his third straight SEA Games gold.  

"Mas okay na [ang injury ko]. Hindi ako nakalaro ng Asian championship sa Thailand kasi pinaghahandaan ko 'yung World Championships and the SEA Games," said Marcial, who also copped a bronze in the 2018 Asian Games.

(My injury is better now. I didn't get to compete in the Asian Championships in Thailand because I'm just focused on the World Championships and the SEA Games.) 

Velasco will be trimming the SEA Games roster to 8 men and 5 women, based on their performances in the world tourney. 

The boxing head coach, though, is not certain whether the boxing meet in Russia will already serve as the initial Olympic qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

If not, Velasco said he expects the series of qualifiers for the Olympics to start by January 2020. – Rappler.com

Beatrice Go

More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.

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