Despite all that’s happening, Philippine Olympic boxing bet Irish Magno needs to stay sharp, hungry and determined—even with the Tokyo Games more than a year away, if it will ever be staged at all.

A huge number of national athletes were given the option to go back to their respective provinces until the health situation in the country improves. And while Magno relishes the thought of reuniting with family, she has a problem on how she will maintain the level of sharpness she’s had since early this year when she tabbed a spot to the quadrennial sporting showcase in Japan. “That would be a problem,” Magno told the Inquirer in Filipino on Sunday. “Once we’re all home, our training would be nothing close to what we usually get [in Baguio or Manila]. It really would not be enough.”

The 28-year-old Magno and the majority of the national boxing team arrived in Manila from Baguio earlier this week and underwent swab testing. They are currently hunkered down at Ultra in Pasig while waiting for their respective rides home.

Magno admits to being “spoiled” somewhat as a national pug, with coaches there to monitor everything they do—and correct their mistakes in practice. On the spot.

“I’ve been used to having our coaches around—monitoring me, checking us, telling us whether we’re doing the right things,” she said.

She’ll have none of that when she gets to Panay in the next few days.

That’s why Magno will be going back to where it all began—and to the very people who made her dreams of representing the country come true.

“Good thing my old coaches—the ones who first took a chance on me—are still there,” she said of her mentors Roger Calolico, Ruel Lucien and Roger Leysa among others, as she plans to ask for their guidance once again and make her as hungry for success as ever—just like when she was just starting.“I was also able to get wind of a newly opened gym. I plan on reaching out to the owner. Maybe I could train there since they already have the gears and equipment,” Magno added.

Magno said her old mentors could help her integrate whate­ver program her national coaches will give her while she’s in her hometown of Januiay in Panay.The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has made it its priority to send national athletes back to their hometowns as the country continues to reel in the face of the coronavirus pandemic that has resulted in varying community quarantine measures and has deprived athletes to train properly.

The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, (Abap) however, said that the athletes were offered a choice between staying or returning home.

“Nesthy [Petecio] and Irish took the PSC’s offer to go back to their respective provin­ces. They were unable to have a Christmas break because of the proximity of the Olympic qualifiers and Southeast Asian Games [last year],” Abap secretary general Ed Picson told the Inquirer.

Magno initially chose to stay put in Baguio, the national team’s perennial choice of training venue. However, she pointed out that all of the national team’s coaches have opted to go back home, prompting a handful of athletes—like herself—to just follow suit.

“I thought to myself, who will I be left with there? Since everyone’s going home, I might as well go home, too,” she said.

Asked about the PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez’s plan on opening the doors of Rizal Memorial for Tokyo-bound and hopeful boxers, Picson said the boxing body “will defer to the wisdom of PSC.”

“We will ask them (bo­xers) to come back to camp as soon as we determine what the protocols are,” Picson said.

Magno, if anything, still feels that there’s still a gaping hole in her plan.

“It’s still going to be a struggle,” she said. “Especially because I’m not sure whether I could find a sparring partner.”

Now that’s a problem that could be solved once she gets there, for who wouldn’t want to spar with a future Olympian? INQ

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