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Digong, Rio Olympians meet in Malacañang

Malacañang is rolling the red carpet this afternoon for athletes and officials bound for the 2016 Olympics set to open shop early next month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The courtesy call of the Philippine delegation to the Aug. 5 to 21 sportsfest will be at 2 p.m. with high-ranking officials of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) accompanying the sprinkling number of athletes.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to provide morale boost as the country aims to end a 20-year medal drought.

The last time the Phlippines brought home a medal from the Olympics – a silver – was when light-fly boxer Onyok Velasco finished behind Daniel Petrov Bojilov of Bulgaria in the 1996 Atanta Games.

Taekwondo jin Kirstie Elaine Alora, golfer Miguel Tabuena, long jumper Marestella Torres, Ian Lariba of table-tennis and lifters Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia will lead those in the country.

Marathoner Mary Joy Tabal is holed up in Yokohama, Japan, while Fil-Am hurdler Eric Cray is in San Antonio, Texas.

Boxers Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez in the US East Coast and swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi is in Hawaii and Jessie King Lacuna is in Australia but is arriving in time to be with the group that will fly to Rio via Dubai on July 23. (Nick Giongco)