A YEAR after Olympic medalist Kayla Sanchez switched allegiance to the Philippines from Canada, the 22-year-old tanker is now ready to represent the motherland.
And her first order of business is to deliver medals for the country in the Hangzhou Asian Games this September.
Ms. Sanchez, a recruit of former swim chief Lani Velasco and an Olympic silver and three-time World Championships gold winner when she was still with Canada, had, in fact, skipped the World Championships scheduled July 14 in Fukuoka, Japan to focus on the Hangzhou tilt.
“I have met with my coach, and we have decided it is best for me not to compete in Fukuoka,” Ms. Sanchez told Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham Tolentino. “This means I can be focused to (win) medal in the Asian Games in September.”
“I have a very intense competition schedule after the Asian Games with another world championship and the Olympics,” she added.
“Kayla’s a veteran swimmer, even at only 22, and she and her coach know what’s best,” said Mr. Tolentino.
While Ms. Sanchez has already served a full year of the required residency, she stressed she would still wait for full confirmation from World Aquatics before she could compete as full-fledged Filipino.
“Before I withdraw from the competition I think we should wait until World Aquatics approves my transfer,” she said. “At least then we know that I am 100% cleared to race for the Philippines in the Asian Games.”
She thanked Mr. Tolentino for facilitating her transfer.
Ms. Sanchez should be one of the country’s top bets to strike gold in Hangzhou along with Paris Olympic Games-bound and World No. 3 pole-vaulter EJ Obiena.
World champion gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo had already skipped the Asiad for the World tilt in Antwerp, Belgium, which serves as an Olympic qualifier, also in September, leaving Ms. Sanchez and Mr. Obiena to carry the fight for the country. — Joey Villar