MANILA, Philippines—Rogen Ladon will be carrying a lot of fuel in his gas tank in his drive toward a gold medal repeat in the upcoming Southeast Asian Games.
Buoyed by the Philippine boxing team’s Olympic glory in last year’s Tokyo Games, Ladon has fire blazing in his belly—still very much determined to make a strong statement in the biennial event despite already being a decorated amateur.
“That’s a big motivation for me because that’s also my dream,” Ladon told INQUIRER.net in Filipino, pertaining to the national boxing team’s Tokyo medal haul of two silvers and one bronze courtesy of women’s featherweight Nesthy Petecio, flyweight Carlo Paalam and middleweight Eumir Marcial.
“I’ve already been to the Olympics but it’s an entirely different thing when you get a medal. That’s every athlete’s dream.”
Like Ladon, Petecio and Marcial are also gunning for a second consecutive SEA Games gold in their respective divisions. Paalam, who is groping for form, meanwhile, has stepped aside for Ladon in the flyweight event.
Completing the men’s are featherweight Ian Clark Bautista, light welterweight James Palicte and welterweight Marjon Pianar.
Joining Petecio in the women’s team are light flyweight Josie Gabuco, Tokyo Olympian and flyweight Irish Magno, feathweweight Riza Pasuit and middlweight Hergie Bacyadan.
Ladon competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics but was booted out in the Round of 16 of the men’s light flyweight class by Colombian Yuberjen Martinez, who went on to win the silver medal.
The Negros Occidental native eventually found a semblance of redemption when he claimed the light flyweight bronze in the 2017 Asian Championships and silver in the 2018 Asian Games before winning his first gold in the SEA Games in 2019 both as a flyweight.
Ladon was primed for an Olympic return in Tokyo but failed to make the cut with Paalam earning the spot via the ranking system. The Tokyo Games also only decided to have eight categories, excluding the light flyweight class, as compared to 10 in Rio.
Ladon is fresh off another golden feat when he emerged as the top flyweight in the Thailand Open earlier this month. It was Ladon’s first competition since the SEA Games.
“Winning that is a big help for me because it was my first time competing again. After the SEA Games last 2019, I’ve been training but I wasn’t able to compete again,” said Ladon, who’s been training twice a day with the PH team in Thailand.
Ladon aims to carry over his winning ways to Hanoi where reclaiming his SEA Games title presents a different challenge.
“There’s always pressure and it’s all about how you handle it. It’s there hometown and we’re just the visitors so there’s really pressure to win,” he said.
Ladon, who also draws inspiration from his family whom he hasn’t seen since January due to training camp, cites Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia as the biggest threats to his title-retention bid.
The Philippines, the defending overall champion, collected seven golds, three silvers and a couple of bronzes in boxing alone in the previous edition of the Games.
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