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Nagasaki training for PH Olympic hopefuls

The Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (Patafa) has found a new partner in its bid to bolster its campaign in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics when it accepted an invitation from Japan to train Filipino athletes in Nagasaki.

Patafa president Philip Ella Juico yesterday bared his acceptance of Japanese entrepreneur Katsutoshi Shimizu to train several Filipino athletes at the Nagasaki Athletics Stadium in Isahaya, Nagasaki for their Olympic buildup.

A frequent Manila visitor who is in shipping and food service businesses, Shimizu offered to sponsor the top national athletes’ training programs.

The Patafa, meanwhile, will shoulder the airfare and board and lodging of Filipino athletes who would qualify in the Olympics.

Juico said he is optimistic that at least six athletes will make it to the Olympics bannered by pole vault specialist EJ Obiena and Filipino-American hurdler Eric Cray.

“It was a very good offer. I’m thanking Mr. Shimizu for his kind gesture of giving our athletes access to a world-class training facility,” said the former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman and once a commissioner of the Philippine Basketball League, adding that the strong Filipino community in Nagasaki makes the three-month training easier for the local athletes.

“There’s a very strong Filipino community there. All of them are Catholic since San Lorenzo Ruiz died there. So I think it will be easier for our athletes to adjust.”

Juico added that Japan would serve as the focal point of Olympic qualifying events, making it an attractive training destination for nearby countries like South Korea, Taipei and China.

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