The Philippines has yet to win a gold medal in the Olympics, but will have another shot to end the drought soon.
Barriga, who earn an Olympic slot via backdoor during the World Boxing Championship, expressed and have been showing his determination to end the drought and win the elusive gold the country has yet to capture since participating in the Games in 1924 in France.
“Ang goal ko s’yempre ay makapanalo ng gold,” Barriga said in an interview with ABS-CBN News. “Kahit sabihin nating mahirap kunin, s’yempre tayong mga Pilipino nangangarap pa rin. Isa ako dun sa nangangarap.”
The 19-year-old Barriga will be competing in the light-flyweight division – the same weight division in which Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco won the silver medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and Roel Velasco and Leopoldo Serantes bagged the bronze in the 1992 Barcelona and 1988 Seoul Olympics, respectively.
Barriga’s fate will depend on how tough his draw will be, but Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines executive director Ed Picson said that they will be ready to face anyone in London, including the heavy favorite in the weight division, Zou Shiming.
The reigning world champion Zhou, who won the bronze in Athens in 2004 and the gold in Beijing in 2008, defeated Barriga in the quarterfinals of the world championship, but Picson said that they will be preparing for him very well.
“We’re trying to prepare Mark for any eventuality,” Picson said. “We don’t dwell on the draw because it’s something we can’t control. A lucky draw would be nice but we want to be ready for whoever is thrust before us.”
Barriga, who will have a much-needed boost after his parents were granted sponsorship trip to be with him in London, will begin his quest for the gold medal on July 31.