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Skier Miller confirmed as sole Philippines competitor

China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-14 09:30
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Asa Miller

The Philippines will compete at Beijing 2022 after alpine skier Asa Miller was confirmed as the country's sole competitor on Wednesday.

Jim Palomar Apelar, president of the Philippine Ski and Snowboard Federation, said Miller, 21, secured his berth after meeting the qualifying score of 160 points or lower for both the slalom and giant slalom.

Miller represented the Philippines at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, ranking 70th out of 110 competitors in the giant slalom.

Apelar said Miller's performance has improved significantly since the Pyeongchang Games. "He is older now. He has gotten a lot better. His points have greatly decreased,"Apelar told a virtual news conference. In the alpine scoring system, the lower the points the better.

"Miller is competing right now and doing very well. These last few competitions were more for tuning up," Apelar said.

The International Ski Federation granted the Philippines one slot in both slalom and giant slalom.

As the sole Filipino athlete competing in Beijing, Miller will carry the Philippines' flag at the opening ceremony on Feb 4. His last day of competition is Feb 14.

"We are excited that Miller has been given an opportunity to participate in Beijing. We believe that this is just the beginning of what is to come," Apelar added.

Abraham Tolentino, the Philippines Olympic Committee president, said the Philippines is "very lucky to have qualified for the Beijing Winter Olympics", adding that it is rare for tropical countries to be represented at such events.

Tolentino expressed hope that Miller's participation in Beijing will help establish a grassroots program to develop more alpine skiers to represent the Philippines in the Winter Olympics and elite international competitions.

"We look forward to more athletes joining future winter events,"Tolentino said in an online briefing.

The Philippines hopes to recruit and train more Filipino youths, including those living abroad, to participate in winter sports and represent the Southeast Asian country in the future.

In regard to the strict COVID-19 countermeasures in place for the Games, Tolentino said: "The preparations are superb."

Bones Floro, the chef de mission of the Philippines delegation to Beijing, said the team will strictly abide by the health protocols. "The Chinese people have been very gracious to host the event, so we will act in a manner to protect the Chinese people as well," he said.

The Philippines has never won a medal at the Winter Olympics. Apelar and Tolentino hope that the Philippines' participation at Beijing 2022"is just the beginning".

"We're looking forward in four years to having four disciplines and hopefully between four to eight athletes. The more disciplines that we participate in, someone will emerge from there and win our first medal,"Apelar said.


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