Philippines’ top swimming prospect Kayla Sanchez ready to embark on a fresh start

Kayla Sanchez: Doing her best for Team Philippines

Entered in at least seven events at the 19th Asian Games, the spotlight will certainly follow Sanchez whenever she swims.

Given her track record of bringing hardware to the world’s biggest events, Sanchez is widely expected to do the same for the Philippines as she did for Canada.

And if she enters the medal zone, the celebration will be significant. Not since 1998 did the archipelagic nation win a medal in swimming when Raymond Papa won two bronze medals at the Asian Games in Bangkok.

The Philippines’ last gold medal was in 1982 Asian Games in Delhi, India, where William Wilson won first prize in the men’s 200m freestyle.

The weight of such expectations will be a heavy thing for Sanchez to bear, but so far the young swimmer has ably answered questions about her medal hopes.

“I’m excited to come here and compete,” Sanchez told reporters, sweeping away the magnifying glass placed on her. “It’s my first Asian Games, so I’m going with the experience. I’m just happy to be here with the team.”

Asked about her chances of making the podium, she added: “I’m obviously trying my best to place highest for Team Philippines. »

Sanchez’s long journey to Hangzhou dates back to when she started swimming at the age of four as part of a community learn-to-swim program. She was encouraged to enter her first competitions at the age of eight.

She later joined Swimming Canada’s High Performance Center in Ontario to help maintain the team’s momentum following success at Rio 2016. She was part of a group that included Penny Oleksiaknow a seven-time Olympic medalist and Canada’s most decorated Olympic athlete.

A year later, after helping Canada win a string of relay medals at the Championships 2017 World Junior Swimming ChampionshipsSanchez was brought up to the senior team.

She has made appearances at 2017 World Aquatics Championships in Budapest before competing in the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and 2019 World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju.

With the 19th Asian Games set to be her debut for the Philippines, Sanchez is looking to use the competition to help her launch towards the title. Paris 2024 Olympic Games where she hopes to go further than she did with Canada and win an individual medal.

With this goal in mind, Sanchez chose to skip this year’s edition. World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka to be better prepared for the challenges of the Asian Games.

Alec Dittman

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