By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
The Philippines is not lacking modern sports facilities, and the Clark City Aquatics Center in Capas, Tarlac is perhaps one of the best there is.
Small wonder, the Israeli national team has been training there in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics scheduled July 23.
Philippine Swimming Inc (PSI) President Lani Velasco disclosed that the Israeli swimming team competing in the Olympics arrived last Friday for its final stretch of preparations.
Composed of 11 swimmers and six officials, the squad has been under a bubble-type training setup at the new Clark City Aquatics Center in Capas, Tarlac.
The venue was where the 30th Southeast Asian Games swimming competitions were held in 2019.
“It is my pleasure to welcome Israel’s Olympic swimming team to our country,” Velasco said in a Facebook post Monday, July 12.
“We hope that our people and our facilities… ultimately help these athletes acclimatize to the Asian time zone and weather conditions and, ultimately, prepare for the Olympics.”
Velasco thanked local officials for the support they extended to the Israeli team as well as to the Israel squad for trusting the country in helping them with their Olympic preparations.
The Israelis will leave for Tokyo on July 19 in time for the swimming event starting on July 24 at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Meanwhile, five of the 19 Filipino qualifiers have also been training on local soil for the Olympics namely rower Cris Nievarez, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, weightlifter Elreen Ando and shooter Jayson Valdez.
The remaining athletes are currently abroad with golfers Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan, sprinter Kristina Knott and boxer Eumir Marcial coming from the United States, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz from Malaysia, pole vaulter EJ Obiena from Italy, Juvic Pagunsan from England, and boxers Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam in Thailand.
Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe and gymnast Carlos Yulo are based in Japan.