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Thursday, December 7, 2023

PHL wrestling’s olympic bid gets backing from Go For Gold

Go For Gold Philippines founder Jeremy Go recently handed out pairs of fighting shoes to the national wrestlers who engaged in battle during the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games.

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

“Pinag-usapan namin na gumawa ng program para sa 2028 (Olympics). We have been asked kung sino sa mga athletes namin ang may kakayahan na mag-qualify at willing tumulong si sir Jeremy hanggang makarating sila sa Los Angeles,’’ said national wrestling coach Efrelyn Calitis-Crosby.

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.

Go For Gold founder Jeremy Go (left) provides wrestlers from the Philippine team with fighting shoes. With Go during the simple turnover is national coach Melchor Tumasis (right).

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 for 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.

“Pag-uusapan ulit namin ni sir Jeremy kung sino ang mga athletes na susuportahan kapag nailatag na namin ang programa,’’ said Calitis-Crosby.

Go For Gold is a consistent backer of the national wrestlers 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.

Go For Gold, a sports sponsorship program of the Powerball Marketing and Logistics Corporation, is committed to identifying, nurturing and supporting talented athletes across various sports.

Apart from wrestling, the Go For Gold program has supported athletes in cycling, triathlon, sepak takraw, dragon boat, 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 Pinoy grappler to show up at the biggest sports spectacle in the world.

The five-year plan that Go For Gold Philippines intends to support will reinforce that objective in LA 2028.

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