By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
AN Olympian for the first time, 25-year-old air rifle shooter Jayson Valdez is out to make the most of the opportunity presented to him and succeed.
One of 19-strong Filipino athletes seeing action in the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo beginning later this month, Mr. Valdez said it is an honor and privilege to represent the country, more so since he thought that such chance would not happen this year.
“It’s a great feeling to be called an Olympian, but it’s a much greater feeling to win in the Olympics,” said Mr. Valdez in his recent session on the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
He shared that after the quadrennial Games was postponed last year, he thought his Tokyo push was over, so much so that he was ready to enter military service.
The plan to join the army is currently on hold as he competes in the Olympics.
Mr. Valdez earned qualification for the men’s air rifle 10-meter event through the quota system implemented by the International Shooting Sports Federation.
It was based on his participation in the World Cup and Asian qualifying tournaments previously, earning the minimum qualifying scores.
Mr. Valdez is the latest Filipino shooter to qualify for the Olympics after Paul Brian Rosario, who competed in men’s skeet as a wild card entry in London 2012.
The son of three-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Julius Valdez said he is in good shape heading into the Olympics.
He changed his lifestyle and committed himself to be healthier, redounding well in his form.
“I feel great. I’m confident with my scores now because before I was not this consistent,” Mr. Valdez said.
“In my training, I got 630 and 631 points. My personal best was 626. My international competition’s best score was 620,” he added.
In the Olympics, Mr. Valdez said a tough challenge awaits but he remains undeterred, especially because he knows that he is pretty much up against competitors he has faced before.
“This is a great opportunity for me. We’ll see. Anything is possible at that stage. My immediate goal is to enter the Top Eight and go into the medal round. From there, everybody’s back to zero,” he said.
In his Olympic event, Mr. Valdez will be competing against 29 other shooters.
The Tokyo Olympics takes place from July 23 to Aug. 8.