How I wish that some Filipino athletes wound up getting stuck in a foreign land, say the United States or elsewhere, when the worldwide lockdown took effect last March.
Why is that so?
It’s simply because those who found themselves unable to return here are the ones doing well in training.
Case in point is Italy-based pole vaulter EJ Obiena, the first Filipino to earn a berth to the Tokyo Olympics.
The 6-foot-2 Obiena has been busy winning medals in prime European tournaments that he has become a leading candidate to earn Athlete of the Year honors from the Philippine Sportswriters Association for year 2020 that is, if the PSA decides to hold an awards night.
World champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, another Tokyo qualifier, is in Japan, where cases of the coronavirus have stabilized a bit. Under the watchful eyes of a Japanese coach, Yulo’s buildup, while not exactly on target, is progressing well.
Rio de Janeiro Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz is in Kuala Lumpur and in the thick of training as well after authorities relaxed safety protocols.
The only things that bother Diaz are her loved ones back home in Zamboanga City given the alarming coronavirus situation.
But generally, things seem to be fine over in Malaysia as Diaz regularly gets to work out in bidding to join Obiena and Yulo and two others on the list of qualifiers.
Those who are here have been reduced to sending out videos to their respective national sports associations showing that they are somehow working out.
At first, the idea of athletes training while on lockdown sounded like a novel idea.
But as the days turned to weeks and the weeks became months, it is now apparent that letting them to train all by themselves appears foolish.
Without the right facilities and their trainers unable to study their every move, they tend to just go through the motions.
Take the case of the boxing team.
After their stint in the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying in Amman, Jordan early-March, Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno proceeded to their respective homes.
Marcial went to Imus, Cavite, Magno returned to Iloilo and other pugs who failed to make the Olympic grade likewise reunited with their families in the provinces.
Marcial even tried his hand in salting dried fish and planting while Magno helped out in the rice field and another teammate moonlighted as a stevedore.
Apart from Marcial and Magno, other solid Olympic candidates include Carlo Paalam, Rogen Ladon, Ian Clark Bautista and James Palicte and female world champion Nesthy Petecio.
Boxing secretary general Ed Picson is currently working to convince the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to allow a select number of boxers to set up camp.
In an online meeting with Tokyo Olympics chief of mission Nonong Araneta, Picson reiterated his desire to recall the boxers and coaches back to Manila.
Still, Picson will not go to the extent of gathering them in a secluded area so they could start training similar to what a collegiate cage coach recently did.
Picson said Plan A is for them to return to their old gym at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex “since it has everything.”
But Picson insists safety remains paramount but will nonetheless submit to Araneta the cost of setting up a bubble for boxing.
In the meantime, boxing and all the other sports other than professional basketball and football are wishing that the IATF takes the time to heed their call.
As you see, all the IATF has to do is look at Obiena to know the athletes’ plight.
To make a dent in Tokyo, Filipino athletes must start getting back in shape.
Enough of those silly workout videos.