RIO DE JANEIRO -- After a joyous celebration following Hidilyn Diaz’s exploit in weightlifting, Team Philipines again looked like a family in mourning on Monday in the 31st Olympic Games here.
The well-travelled, well-funded boxing team ended up a big disappointment once again as it lost its second and last boxer in Rogen Ladon, who said he was simply overwhelmed in his Olympic debut, failed to deliver as expected and lost to Colombia’s Yurberjen Martinez, 3-0, at the Riocentro here.
Ladon could not hide his disappointment when he talked about his fight with a relatively unknown amateur from Turbo, Colombia, whose claim to fame was a third-place finish in the 2013 Pan American Championships.
“Masyado ako na-excite,” said Ladon inside a three-bedroom condominium unit which the boxers, including Charly Suarez and head coach Nolito Velasco, are sharing with Fil-American hurdles entry Eric Shauwn Cray.
Ladon, a light-flyweight, said he barely slept the night before his Olympic debut.
“Halos hindi ako nakatulog kagabi,” said the winner of the silver and bronze medals in the Asian and World Championships last year. He qualified to the Rio Olympics with another silver medal finish in the Asia-Oceania Qualifier in Qianjiadian, China.
Even Velasco, who’s in his fifth Olympics as coach of the Philippine team, noticed the change in Ladon the moment they stepped inside the venue and his name was called.
“Parang na-overwhelm na nasa Olympics na siya. Sinabuyan ko pa ng tubig sa mukha at sinabihan na mag-focus siya dahil lalaban na,” said Velasco, who thought that Ladon would have a relatively easy time against Martinez.
But Ladon struggled early on and even complained of tightness in his legs starting in the second round and until the final bell.
“Ni sa panaginip hindi siya dapat natalo,” said Velasco.
Last Saturday, Filipino lightweight Charly Suarez lost to Great Britain’s Joseph Cordina in the preliminary round, and also kissed his chances of an Olympic medal early on.
The Philippines qualified only two boxers to this Rio Olympics when top officials of the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines had hoped to send as many as five entries.
“Malungkot din tayo siyempre. Hindi natin inasahan matalo eh,” said Velasco.
Meanwhile, silver medallist Hidilyn Diaz, rallied behind the Filipino athletes who are still in contention.
Diaz said the battle is not over yet with seven more athletes seeing action in the coming days, and hoped that any one among them could still deliver a medal and give the Philippines its best finish in the Olympics since 1932.
She called on those still in the running to continue the fight.
“Don’t give up. Continiue the fight and give your best,” said Diaz, now the newest toast of Philippine sports, which has long been searching for a new hero in the mold of Manny Pacquiao.
Diaz’ victory last Sunday should help boost the sport of weightlifting in the Philippines. It’s a sport that’s suited for Filipinos, especially in the lower or smaller weight classes.
“It’s not important if this is your first time in the Olympics or your second or third because once you are here, you must give your best,” said Diaz.
“I hope we can still win here,” said Diaz.