Philippine Wrestling Team Secures 5 Slots for Olympic Qualifiers
By: Karlo Silverio L. Sevilla III

"The Philippine Wrestling Team is assured a total of five participants for each of the coming Olympic Games (OG) Qualifying Rounds for wrestling this year," said Wrestling Association of the Philippines (WAP) president Albert Balde, "After sending the same number of participants in the recently concluded 2012 Asian Senior Wrestling Championship in Gumi City, South Korea last February 14-20."

Balde added, "We are very grateful and appreciative to the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission for making this possible."

The Continental-Level Championship was a prerequisite of the International Federation (IF) of Wrestling for the coming OG Qualifying Rounds in Astana, Kazakhstan (March 28-April 02), Taiyuan, China (April 24-30), and Helsinki, Finland (May 04-06). The number of wrestlers that a country sent to the just concluded championship determines the maximum number of slots it can compete in for the qualifiers.

The Philippine Wrestling Team secured five slots with the participation of SEA Games Champions Margarito Angana Jr. and Jason Balabal, young wrestlers Alvin Lobreguito and Roxel Jandog, and playing coach Violeto Agustin.

Most impressive were Zamboanga City's Margarito Angana Jr. in the 55 kg. Greco-Roman event and Quezon City's Alvin Lobreguito in the 55 kg. Freestyle.

Angana, after beating his counterpart from Chinese-Taipei then losing to Japan's, ended 7th, the highest place ever achieved by a Filipino in the Asian Senior Wrestling Championship.

Lobreguito, who is actually not yet a senior but a junior only at 19 years old, ended up 8th among 14 competitors. After his matches versus eventual silver-medallist Japan and bronze-medallist India, which he both lost, Lobreguito earned enough classification points to wound up higher than Asian powerhouses Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (tied for 10th). He also ended up much higher than SEA powerhouse Vietnam at 12th place.

"Though we have three more qualifiers this year," said Balde, "We have to clinch it (An Olympic Slot) on the second round in China, because this round is only four days prior to the third and last one in Finland."

He concludes, "It would be very impractical logistically, and burdensome psychology, to proceed to Finland in too short a time after falling short in China. So as far as our dream of making it to this year's London Olympics is concerned, it's make or break in Kazakhstan and China." (In Kazakhstan, top 2 men and top 2 women per weight class qualify, in China top 3 men and top 2 women make it to London).

Wrestling was recently chosen by the PSC as one of the country's 10 priority sports.

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