Will Tanamor Win the Gold for RP?
By Maloney L. Samaco
Sat, 19 Jul 2008
Harry Tanamor is the Philippines' lone boxing entry at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He vowed to give his best to become the first Filipino Olympic gold medalist since the country first joined the world?s biggest sports gathering in 1924.
Coach Pat Gaspi said boxers from Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Thailand and Korea are among the top competitors for the gold medal in the light-flyweight category but the biggest challenge will be against Chinese boxer Zou Shiming.
Already assured of a slot in the Beijing Games, Tanamor went for the gold but was defeated by Shiming of China who scored 16-3 in the finals of the World Boxing Championships at the University of Illinois-Chicago last year. Tanamor hurt his left hand while eluding Shiming?s punches early in the bout and failed to recover in the later rounds.
If Tanamor will win the country's first Olympic gold, he will get a promotion and a cash incentive, as assured by Philippine Armed Forces chief of staff General Alexander Yano. General Yano made the pledge when he met Tanamor, an Army sergeant, and the rest of the 15-member Philippine Olympic delegation.
Filipino athletes who will win gold medals in Beijing are already slated to receive a prize of seven million pesos from the national government and corporate sponsors. The closest the Philippines have come are two silvers for boxing in 1964 by Anthony Villanueva and 1996 by Mansueto ?Onyok? Velasco.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics boxing competition is so tough and solid that Gaspi said winning three of his fights will guarantee Tanamor of garnering at least a bronze medal. He added that the pronouncement of the International Amateur Boxing Association to limit the 48-kg division to just 32 of the world?s best light-flyweight boxers made the situation even brighter. Tanamor's self-confidence is attributed to his two-month long training in Havana, Cuba, under Cuban mentor Dagoberto Rojas Scott and Gaspi.
?Harry is in better form and has enough preparation. I think he can win an Olympic medal in Beijing,? said Cuban coach Enrique Steyners Tisserts who helped train our Filipino bet. He, however, refused to foresee if Tanamor could finally bring home the country?s first Olympic gold in his second attempt. Tanamor competed in the 2004 Athens Olympics but failed to advance past the second round. He was knocked out in the round of 16 by Hong Moo-Won of Korea.
The 30-year-old Zamboangue?o is the fifth of nine siblings and his interest in boxing glimmered when he was 19 through the persuasion of his older brothers who were also boxers in their hometown. His formal training only began in 1999 when he was 21 years old. He competed in the National Open and in the Philippine National Games in Zamboanga.
The southpaw won bronze medals at the 2001 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Belfast and 2003 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Bangkok. He won a silver medal in the 2002 Busan Asian Games.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.
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