MANILA, Philippines — Two-time Olympian Marestella Torres is expected to carry the Philippines’ 17-man track-and-field team as they compete in the 20th Asian Athletics Championships in Pune, India from July 3 to 7.
These 17 players are part of the Philippine Sports Commission’s (PSC) “priority athletes” program who have been training in pursuit of a better medal finish in the Southeast Asian Games late this year.
The athletics meet in India is one of a series of competitions the PHL team is joining as part of its build-up to the SEA Games in Myanmar from December 11 to 22.
They have been in constant training in Baguio City since late last year, according to Athletics head coach Joseph Sy.
“Definitely, all the athletes are excited,” said Sy in Filipino on Friday in the weekly SCOOP (Sports Communicators Organization of the Philippines) forum at the Kamayan Restaurant in Padre Faura. “Marestella is still our top bet.”
The 32-year-old Torres has clinched gold in the 2009 version of the Asian trackfest in Guangzhou, China, but just wound up fifth in 2011 in Kobe, Japan, in the long jump category.
Joining Torres are 800-meter and 1,500m runner Mervin Guarte, hammer throwers Arniel Ferrera and Lorelei Amahit-Sermona, javelin throwers Danilo Fresnido and Rosie Villarito, long jumpers Henry Dagmil, Benigno Marayag and Katherine Kaye Santos, heptathlete Narcisa Atienza, and 4x400m relay sprinters Junrey Bano, Archand Christian Bagsit, Edgardo Alepana and Julius Felicisimo Nierras.
Also included in the line-up are Fil-am runners Eric Cray and Jesson Cid who will compete in the 100m and 400m hurdles respectively.
Coaches Roselyn Hamero and Sean Guevarra, along with Sy, complete the delegation to India.
“This competition is a good test for them before the SEA games,” Sy said as the Philippines looks to stretch its 37-medal haul in the Asian championships since 1973.
The Ho Chi Minh Vietnam Open, Thailand Open, Hong Kong inter-city athletic championships are among the other meets set for the athletes.