Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Charly Suarez went for broke for that Olympic slot

Charly Suarez went for broke for that Olympic slot
by rick olivares

Charly Suarez knew that he was in for a tough fight. The Filipino lightweight fighter up against Chinese fighter Shan Jun and a partisan home crowd.

At stake was a slot in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics and at the very least a silver medal in the Asian-Oceanian Olympic Qualifiers at the Tangshan Sports Centre in Qian’An, China. 

When the Chinese fighter emerged from the locker rooms, he raised his hands to acknowledge the crowd that began to applaud and chant. Suarez came out with a peaceful but determined look on his face.

“Binigyan ako ng pagkakataon na makapunta sa Rio at mabigyan ng kaligayahan ang ating mga kababayan (I was given an opportunity to go to Rio and to bring some joy to our countrymen),” thought Suarez who is the Philippine delegation team captain. “Wala na makakapagpigil sa akin kahit homecrowd nila. Kukunin ko na ‘to. Bigay ko na ang lahat (No one was going to stop me from making it not even the Chinese home crowd. I was going to take this. I was going to give my all)."

While Shan Jun was buoyed by the crowd, it was Suarez who was energeized. “Lalo akong naging desidido manalo (All the more I became determined to win this),” he said of the jeers. His foe was largely uncoordinated in his attacks. The 27-year old Suarez was on target as he landed combinations and nasty shots that rocked the Chinese. In the second round, a powerful straight broke Shan Jun’s nose forcing him to quit sending the small Filipino group in a frenzy. 

Suarez was joining Rogen Ladon, who was the first from the Philippine team to book a ticket to the Olympic Games. “Laking pasasalamat ko kay Lord para sa pagkakataon na to. At ang laking tulong ng imagery techniques namin (I owe so much to God for this blessing. And the use of those imagery techniques greatly helped me in attaining this),” said the deeply religious Suarez.

“The game plan was to dominate and to not let the Chinese fighter dictate and finish the fight because we didn’t want the outcome to be at the mercy of the judges’ decision,” said Philippine Boxing National Team sports specialist Marcus Manalo. “Charly was very assertive all throughout the match and as a result was all over the Chinese boxer. He was very impressive.”

In spite of the Filipinos’ success with Ladon and Suarez now doubling the Philippine boxing contingent to the Olympics (Mark Anthony Barriga was the lone boxer during the 2012 London Olympics), there was equal hope and concern for Mario Fernandez and for Eumir Felix Marcial who both lost their semifinals matches. 

Between the two, Fernandez has a better chance of becoming of clinching an Olympic berth while bringing home a bronze medal. Marcial hurt his hand during his match against Iranian Sajjad Kazemzadeh Poshtiri resulting in swelling in his hand. And that was clearly evident in his match against Shakram Giyasov of Uzbekistan.  

“Sayang pero may laban pa (It’s unfortunate but we still have a fighting chance),” noted Suarez of his compatriots’ final hurdle.

“We will find out and hope and pray for a miracle,” hoped Manalo of the two remaining Filipino boxers who are in contention for an Olympic berth.

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