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Team PH sends three bets to Winter Games

January 17 ------ For a nation alien to wintry conditions, sending three athletes to the Winter Youth Olympics is already a feat in itself. Speedskater Peter Groseclose, cross-country skier Avery Balbanida and freestyle skier Laetaz Amihan Rabe have been fastened at the center of such a leap for Team Philippines in the fourth staging of these Games in the snow-capped alps of Gangwon, South Korea, beginning on Friday.

“This is another breakthrough for our country. It’s really good to see that we’re improving,” said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Bambol Tolentino during Tuesday’s POC extraordinary general assembly at East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Parañaque City. “We continue to defy norms by being one of the few tropical countries which participate in the Winter Olympics,” added the Tagaytay City Mayor. 

Breaking the barrier

Team Philippines first broke the barrier in the winter youth games back in 2012 Innsbruck, Austria, when figure skater and two-time Winter Olympian Michael Martinez installed himself into the limelight with alpine skier Abel Tesfamariam. The Philippines skipped the 2016 edition in Lillehammer, Norway, before Martinez made a comeback in 2020 in Lausanne, Switzerland, joining speedskater Julian Macaraeg and alpine skier Ana Noelle Wahleithner.

The Philippines will accompany Thailand and Singapore as the only southeast Asian nations that will see action in the Games along with 14 other Asian countries from a total of 79 national Olympic committees globally. “Southeast Asian athletes are improving in winter sports and we’re happy to be part of it,” said Tolentino. Thailand will bring in 19 athletes and Singapore has two. Groseclose and his parents Tim and Victoria are already in Seoul, Rabe is flying in on Friday and Balbanida is due in Gangwon on Jan. 25.


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