At the sendoff ceremony for the 11 Filipino athletes bound for the 2012 London Olympics, long-jumper Marestella Torres and distance runner Rene Herrera asked their countrymen for just one thing.
“Sa sambayanang Pilipino, umaasa kami na sana suportahan niyo kami,” said the 31-year-old Torres, speaking in behalf of her fellow athletes. “Ang hinihingi lang namin is prayers ninyo.”
Seven of the 11 athletes were in attendance at the ceremony, held at the Blue Leaf Events Pavilion in McKinley Hill on Monday. Torres, Herrera, skeet-shooter Brian Rosario, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, boxer Mark Anthony Barriga, and swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Khing Lacuna attended the press conference and dinner.
Missing at the send-off were BMX rider Daniel Caluag and judoka Tomohiko Hoshina, who were both training for the London Games overseas, while newly-qualified archers Mark Javier and Rachel Cabral have yet to return from their tournament in Ogden, Utah, where they booked slots to the Olympics.
Torres and the 33-year-old Herrera are the elder statesmen of the Filipino contingent, which is comprised of several young athletes.
Diaz, who was a wild card entry in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is only 21 years old. Barriga, Alkhaldi and Lacuna are all in their teens, and all three attended the sendoff event with their mothers in tow.
“Sana sa mga Pilipino, subaybayan niyo po kami sa London at sana ipagdasal niyo po kami,” said Herrera.
He also promised that the Filipino athletes would do their best to perform to their full abilities in the games.