One key member of the Philippine boxing team wants the two remaining boxers still in the medal race of the Tokyo Olympics to remain hungry.
Another one wants to make sure that when Eumir Marcial and Carlo Paalam climb the ring so they can upgrade their guaranteed bronze medals into a brighter color, both fighters won’t have to deal with hunger.
It sounds like a clash of ideas. But it isn’t.
Eumir Marcial battles Oleksandr Khyzhniak, a fighter he has a lot in common with aside from a desire for the gold medal, in the boxing semifinals of the men’s middleweight division on Thursday at Kokugikan Arena.
Carlo Paalam, meanwhile, will face hometown bet Ryomei Tanaka in the semifinals of the men’s flyweight class.
A win by the Filipino fighters will advance them to the title match, assured of at least a silver medal.
And while they will be on their own atop the ring, they are part of a team that works very hard in the background to keep them mentally and physically sharp for the semifinals.
Nutritionist Jeaneth Aro, for instance, took time out on Wednesday to make sure the boxers were properly fed, in very precise amounts.
“For today (Wednesday), they ate protein and a moderate amount of carbohydrates just to make sure they are on weight for tomorrow’s weigh-in,” Aro said.
“There was no vegetable and fruit for the day because these make them feel heavier.”
Psychologist Marcus Manalo, meanwhile, is tasked with making sure the boxers retain their hunger for success, but in controlled measurements.
“Their motivation is already high and they believe they can get it done. What’s important is for them to maintain their focus on the task despite being already assured of medals,” Manalo said. “There will be different thoughts and emotions due to pressure, expectations, distractions, excitement and all. But they know that they have the power to choose where they place their attention, which is on the execution of the fight plan.”
Execution and nutrition could provide an added push for the boxers, who face formidable foes.
In Khyzhniak, Marcial faces an accomplished fighter who, like the Filipino, was also trained first by his father.
“My father started to train me at an early age. He says that he saw the potential in me and wanted to pass on all his knowledge and experience,” Khyzhniak was quoted by the Games information sheet as saying.
Paalam, meanwhile, faces a Japanese bet who looked like he was on the way out of the quarterfinals until the scorecards were shown.
“I’ve told myself to just keep doing my best and do things my way—taking things slowly until I reach the end,” the 23-year-old boxer from Cagayan de Oro City told sportswriters during a video conference call. INQ
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