By Jomel Anthony Gutierrez, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau and U.S. News Agency / Asian
After a warm welcome, Filipino athletes to the 2012 London Olympics are enjoying the company of other Olympians, good food and facilities at the Olympic Village.
“Masaya kasi ang daming mga atleta,” said long-jumper Marestella Torres.
Aside from Torres, swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie King Lacuna, Skeet shooter Brian Rosario, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, runner Rene Herrera, judoka Tomohiko Hoshina, and archers Rachel Anne Cabral and Mark Javier, together with their coaches, were present during the welcoming ceremony led by the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) at the Olympic Village.
Mark Anthony Barriga is still training at Cardiff University Sports Training Village in Wales, while BMX rider Daniel Caluag is set to arrive on the 24th of July.
“Ok kasi nagbubuild-up na yung spirit kasi padami na nang padami yung mga tao. Nakikita na namin yung mga stars sa sports,” said Lacuna.
Charles Allen, Mayor of the Olympic Village led the welcoming ceremony for the Filipino Olympians and Philippine Olympics officials.
Chief of Mission to the Olympic Games, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) first vice president Manny Lopez, spearheaded the flag-raising event with Administrative Officer Arsenic Lacson, to mark the beginning of the Olympic journey of the Filipino athletes inside the Village.
Officials of the Philippine Embassy in London almost missed the event due to the tight security at the Olympic Village. Military personnel have been deployed to also provide additional security to all athletes.
After the flag raising event, the Pinoy Olympians had lunch with embassy officials at the Village cafeteria.
Herrera and Alkhaldi are now enjoying the facilities, unlimited food and drinks supply inside the Olympic Village’s cafeteria after staying in a hotel for almost a month.
“Yung facilities ayus naman. Sa pagkain ok na dahil maraming pagpipiliian na pagkain,” he said.
“It’s very nice. Ang sarap ng food. Ang daming choices,” said Alkhaldi.
Diaz, for her part, is happy to try out the variety of food offered by the cafeteria.
“Medyo masarap kaysa naman doon sa Holiday Inn kasi pabalik-balik lang. Kaya pagpunta dito food na kaagad pinuntahan namin,” she said.
Diaz is the flag bearer of the Philippines during the opening ceremony on July 27.
The Filipino athletes now feel the pressure and excitement with the Summer Games happening in a few days time.
“Siyempre, very excited na. Eto na start na ng game malapit na rin,” Herrera said.
“I’m nervous but excited na din,” Alkhaldi added.
Weightlifter Diaz expressed a little fear, but was quick to assure that she’s now ready. “Siyempre, nakakatakot tapos excited na din. Pero ready na din”.
The Pinoy athletes arrived in the Olympic Village last June 19 from their pre-Olympic training camps outside London. They are now continuing training at the venues where they will actually try to win an Olympic medal.
Most of them will compete at Excel Sports Center, Olympic stadium and the Lord’s Cricket Ground.