Quarantine requirement could hurt PH paddlers’ chances in qualifier

Ojay Fuentes (left) and Hermie Macaranas. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Hermie Macaranas, the country’s top canoeist, is thrilled at the thought of racing in the coming Asian Canoe Sprint Championship, the last continental qualifying window for the Tokyo Olympics.

But the Olympic qualifier tentatively set in Pattaya, Thailand, on May 5-7, has its challenges due to COVID-19, and one of them is the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for participants prior to the races.

“If that is the case, it means you cannot train for 14 days. I think that can be a problem,’’ said Macaranas, the reigning Southeast Asian (SEA) Games champion in the 200-meter C1 event, in Filipino.

Joining Macaranas in the Thailand qualifier is sprint partner Ojay Fuentes and John Paul Selencio as alternate as they will race in the 1000-m C2 event, the winner of which will book a ticket to Tokyo.

National coach Len Escollante said once the qualifier in Pattaya pushes through, the host country could gain leverage since other participating Asian paddlers will be confined inside their hotels for 14 days.

Despite the additional obstacle, the Philippine Canoe Kayak Dragonboat Federation has wasted no time in helping improve the times of their Olympic aspirants.

Apart from the twice-a-day training at their facility in Taytay, the national canoe-kayak and dragonboat team will set up camp on the shores of Tacloban City, far from the risk of contracting the virus.

Escollante said they would bring 12-14 people to Tacloban, including three coaches, where they are bound to stay a week before the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Nov. 21-Dec. 2.

They will have a break at the peak of the rainy season in June, return to Tacloban a month later and continue training all the way to the SEA Games, which offers 19 gold medals for canoe-kayak. INQ

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