SHOOTER Jayson Valdez became the 12th Filipino athlete to officially qualify for the Tokyo Olympics that start in 33 days on July 23, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino announced on Saturday.
Valdez, 25, earned a slot in the men’s air rifle 10-meter event through the quota system implemented by the Munich-based International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF).
“That’s an additional chance for us. Good thing there’s a quota qualifying in shooting, and the better thing, we have a world ranking athlete, also a scholar of the POC,” Tolentino said.
Valdez’s qualification in shooting ended a two-Olympic cycle drought for the Philippines in the sport. Paul Brian Rosario competed in men’s skeet as a wild card entry in London 2012.
Philippine National Sports Association (PNSA) Secretary General Irene Garcia also confirmed Valdez’s entry.
“I received an urgent message last night from the ISSF in Germany, the mother of all the shooting federations,” Valdez said. “They asked me if we’re ready, so I replied ‘Yes we’re ready!’ and they gave me the quota.”
Garcia said Valdez made the minimum qualifying scores or MQS for his participation in the World Cup and Asian qualifying tournaments. She added that the Philippines was the last country that qualified for the event.
“It’s been a long while since we had an entry in the event. It’s very exciting,” Garcia added.
The other Olympic qualifiers so far are boxers Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno, Carlo Paalam and Eumir Felix Marcial, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, taekwondo jin Kurt Bryan Barbosa, rower Cris Nievarez and weightlifters Hidilyn Diaz and Erleen Ann Ando.
While Valdez was sitting and grappling the tough defeat, his father, team trainer and former Philippine national team shooter Julius Valdez, grabbed the seat next to him. The two generation of Filipino gunners enjoyed a light touching moment sitting side by side and talking about the sport they passionately share.