London (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The Philippine campaign in the 30th Olympic Games here went off to a prosaic start Friday with the two Filipino archers making it to the lower half of their respective draws in the archery competitions.
Only a few hours before Friday's Opening Ceremonies brought the Olympics to London for the third time, Rachelle Anne Cabral completed a not-so-auspicious kickoff at the Lored's Cricket Grounds by placing 48th in the knockout stage of the women's draw.
That brought up Russia's Inna Stepanova, who ranked No. 17, as the Filipino archer's opponent in the first of the knockout rounds on the individual competition. The round starts on Tuesday.
Cabral finished the first half in 41st place with 318 points and faded in the second half with 309 for a total of 627. That was 44 points adrift of the two Koreans and one Taiwanese who topped the rankings with identical 671 points.
Earlier in the day, Mark Javier, the first Filipino to see action in the Games, finished even lower in rank, 55th in a field of 64. He will face American champion Brady Ellison in the knockout phase also on Tuesday.
The shy and taciturn archer from Dumaguete had what he called an average day at the range, shooting 326 in the first half and 323 in the second half for an aggregate of 649.
The not-so-encouraging start raised the odds even higher against the two Filipinos in the tournament proper, where the lower-ranked archers are ranged against those in the top bracket. But the new tournament format, adopted after the Beijing Olympiad, gives a glimmer of hope to the lower-ranked players and raises the possibility, albeit still remote, of an upset. That's the slim hope that officials of the Philippine delegation are clinging to.
The 27-year-old Cabral, who hails from Tuguegarao, Cagayan, will be up against a Russian with solid credentials. Although ranked 33rd in the last world championship, Stepanova topped the World Cup in Shanghai last year after finishing second a year earlier.
She was also second in the European championships in 2010.
Javier will go up against an even more formidable opponent-the 5-foot-11 Ellison. The American champion is among the top-ranked players in the world. In fact, he is the undisputed champion in the Pan American Games and the World Cup in the last three years.
Upset not impossible
Still, an upset is not impossible.
In the 2004 Olympics in Athens, wild card entry Jasmine Figueroa created the biggest stir in the archery competitions when she upset and eliminated the former world champion from Italy, only to lose a close match in the next round.
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