Barriga Off Today For London

Described as "focused but relaxed" by a boxing official, boxer Mark Anthony Barriga leaves today for London to join six teammates in the training camp serving as the final stage of their buildup for the 30th Olympic Games.

"We try to give him as much breathing space and private moments he badly needs amidst the hoopla. He's focused but relaxed," Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines executive director Ed Picson said yesterday.

"His training has been on track and his attitude excellent," said Picson of Barriga, who leaves at 8 p.m. tonight for Hong Kong before boarding another plane for a 16-hour journey to the British capital.

The 19-year-old Barriga will be accompanied by coach Roel Velasco, best remembered for winning a bronze medal in the light-flyweight division during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Barriga, seen by many including Philippine team's chief of mission Manny Lopez as a strong medal prospect, is the seventh and last Filipino athlete to avail of the free two-week camp heading to the Olympics scheduled July 27 to Aug. 12.

The others now training in London are swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi, Jessie Khing Lacuna, shooter Brian Rosario, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, long jumper Marestella Torres and long distance runner Rene Herrera.

"Mark will be one of the medal contenders in his division. He has gone through a long buildup. I believe he can deliver," Lopez said.

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