FROM two previously, the country saw the number of boxers who will represent the Philippines in the rescheduled Olympic Games this year grow to four, something the local federation for the sport views with much significance and is rallying behind.

On Friday, the International Olympic Committee Boxing Task Force (IOC-BTF) communicated to Philippine officials that featherweight Nesthy Petecio and flyweight Carlo Paalam qualified for the Olympics on the strength of their current world rankings.

The two fighters were angling to make it to the sporting spectacle set for the middle of this year in the Paris qualifiers in May which was canceled by organizers because of ongoing concerns over the coronavirus.

Good thing for Ms. Petecio and Mr. Paalam, they were able to garner enough points to be in the mix of the top boxers in their respective divisions as the IOC-BTF moved to consider the world rankings for Olympic qualification after the scheduled qualifiers were scrapped.

Ms. Petecio, a world boxing championship gold medalist in 2019, is currently number five in the women’s featherweight ratings while Mr. Paalam, a gold medalist in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, is ranked number 12 in the men’s flyweight division.

They moved up to number one in their respective weight classes since the boxers ranked ahead of them have already qualified for the Olympics.

The two join middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial and flyweight Irish Magno in bannering the country’s Olympic campaign in the sport.

“Let us all get together and focus on the challenges ahead not only of our boxers, but all Filipino athletes. Now, more than ever, they need us to stand firmly behind them,” said Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) President Ricky Vargas in a statement following the qualification of Ms. Petecio and Mr. Paalam.

To date, the Philippines has six athletes set to see action in the Tokyo Games, including pole-vaulter EJ Obiena and gymnast Caloy Yulo.

Meanwhile, ABAP issued a statement following an emotional post by Ms. Magno on social media over the delayed release of their monthly allowances from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

The ABAP said the PSC has been a partner in its efforts and should be given the chance to address the issue.

But for the boxing federation’s end, it reiterated that “it has not been blind or unresponsive to their (athletes’) financial troubles.”

It said it has been making every effort to assist all of its boxers and coaches even during the lengthy lockdown period last year.

“We acknowledge the sacrifices and hardships our athletes and coaches go through in the struggle for national pride. And for this, we have always seen to it that they are amply rewarded for their achievements and have taken care of their basic needs in nutrition, sports psychology, strength and conditioning and the best possible training possible,” the ABAP said in the statement.

The PSC, for its part, already answered Ms. Magno’s concerns, saying the agency was not remiss on its duties but admitted delays in the processing of the allowances prevented them from being distributed on time.

On a Facebook post on March 18, the PSC said January allowance of athletes and local coaches of Olympic-bound sports have been released while February allowance was being processed.

Meanwhile, the sports agency said the rest of the national team will receive their allowance from February, subject to submission of necessary documents as itemized in notices sent to national sports associations. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo