Two-time Olympic medalist Kayla Sanchez is switching countries from Canada to the Philippines to represent the country in swimming competitions.
The 21-year-old Sanchez, whose parents are Filipinos living in Singapore and grew up in Toronto, earned both bronze and silver medals for Canada at last month’s world championship held in Budapest, Hungary.
She also swam a leadoff leg representing Canada last summer in Tokyo in a silver-medal effort in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay.
In a statement released by Swimming Canada on Thursday (July 7), Sanchez said that she’s always been proud of her Filipino heritage, and decided that she wanted to represent the Philippines in swimming competitions.
“Aside from how much I’ve grown and how good everything has been in Canada, I needed to make this really difficult decision for myself and my family to take this opportunity to represent the Philippines,” she said. “I want to help inspire people that are like me to swim and get into the sport.”
She also said that she’s grateful to Canada for all that it has done for her swimming career, remarking that she wouldn’t be the swimmer-athlete she is today “without the support and how much I grew and learned,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez’s swimming career started when she trained at the Ontario high-performance center in 2016. She had also been a member of the Canadian team since 2017.
“Kayla has been a great team member, center member and swimmer for Canada and we will miss her,” said John Atkinson, Swimming Canada’s high-performance director and national coach, in a statement.
“She brought such positive energy to our teams, as well as great swimming. Our loss will be the Philippines’ gain, but we support her in this transition as it is the direction she wishes to follow for personal and family reasons. We sincerely wish her nothing but the best in her future swimming,” Atkinson further said.
Sanchez feels that she’s at a point in her life where she needs to change and step into a new point in her career in swimming “where I can start to focus on myself” and help the Filipino people.
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.
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