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Pinoy pugs hope for luck of draw

RIO DE JANEIRO – The Filipino boxers in this Rio Olympics will still have to rely on the luck of the draw if they are to achieve their goal of giving the country its first medal in 20 years.

No Filipino athlete has brought home a medal from the Olympics since Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco took the silver in the light-flyweight class of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Many thought that Velasco did enough to win the gold against Bulgaria’s Daniel Petrov Bujilov. The bout was scored 19-6 when it was closer inside the ring.

Boxing competitions here in Rio de Jaineiro will run from Aug. 6 to Aug. 21. Medals will be at stake in 10 weight divisions for men and three for women.

The Philippines only has two boxers competing here in Rio.

Light-flyweight Rogen Ladon and lightweight Charly Squarez, first-time Olympians, will get the chance to end the medal drought for the Philippines.

Ladon and Suarez will see action on Aug. 6 but are still awaiting the results of the draw days before the start of the competition.

Head coach Nolito Velasco presided over a light training session for the two Filipino boxers Saturday afternoon at Pavilion 5 of the Riocenter Convention Center.

It was a light session compared to the normal grind these boxers go through, kicking it off with a couple of rounds of shadow boxing and sparring and a few more on the bags.

The two boxers cooled down by running back to the Athletes Village which is less than a kilometer away from the training venue.

Velasco, elder brother of the 1996 silver medalist and 1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze medal winner Roel Velasco, is eagerly awaiting the results of the draw.

“We are hoping for a better draw,” he said in Filipino.

“Let’s hope that we don’t cross paths with the other favorites. We don’t want the championship bouts in our opening bouts,” he said.

Ladon is ranked third in his division while Suarez is just in the lower rungs.

“If we get the breaks in the draw, then we get better chances of winning medals here,” added Velasco as he walked back to the Athletes Village.

“But our boxers are ready for whoever is put in front of them,” said Velasco.

Ladon and Suarez flew into town from Las Vegas last Thursday and had no problems settling down in Rio, with hardly any jetlag unlike the other Pinoy athletes.

Velasco said the boxers are well rested and ready to go.

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