Alcantara given outright slot in Youth Olympic Games

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — YOUNG Filipino tennister Francis Casey Alcantara has been given outright entry to participate in the First Youth Olympic Games slated middle of this year in Singapore.

The 17-year-old wonder from Cagayan de Oro City earned the automatic slot on the strength of his winning the boys’ doubles in the prestigious Australian Open last year where he teamed up with Taiwanese Hsieh Cheng-peng on the road to victory.

Philippine Olympic Committee deputy secretary general and swimming association president Mark Joseph, also disclosed that the national basketball team still to be formed has also been given automatic berth in the biggest gathering ever of the world’s youth athletes aged 14-18.

Joseph made the twin disclosures during yesterday’s SCOOP Sa Kamayan weekly session at the Kamayan Restaurant-Padre Faura.

“Alcantara’s victory in the Australian Open and his subsequent high top 30 rating internationally earned for him the outright seat in the Youth Olympics,” Joseph said.

“As for basketball, it was the FIBA, the world’s governing body in the sport that gave the Philippines outright seeding probably because of the country’s contribution to the growth of basketball worldwide,” the PASA head said.

Unlike Alcantara and the basketball squad, those who have already qualified to the Games earlier – five in swimming, two in archery, three in shooting — have yet to maintain their present rankings until June, the time the final lists to be given invitation should have been submitted.

Another tennister, Jason Patrombon, according to Joseph, has a chance to be seeded although he must have to in several qualifying tournaments to finally make it.

The POC, Joseph announced, will also be sending young Filipino athletes to participate in qualifying tournaments in boxing, taekwondo, judo and equestrian as well as other events each respective national sports associations wish to be represented.

Joseph, who appeared as guest in the forum along with some gold medalists in last year’s Laos Southeast Asian Games – judoka John Baylon and wrestlers Jimmy Angana, Margarito Angana and Jason Balabal — said that 580 slots are available in athletics, 480 in swimming, 70 in archery, 32 in equestrian and 80 in shooting.

The YOG, he said, follows the traditional 26-sports calendar, although chances are that several non-Olympic events that could help in the promotion of Olympic values and education to children might be added.