A world teen champion will spearhead the Philippine campaign when the country hosts the 7th Asian Junior Wushu Championship starting today at Makati Coliseum.
Alieson Ken Omengan, who captured a gold in the World Junior Wushu Championships in Macau last year, banners the 15-member national wushu team vying for top honors in taolu (forms) and sanda (sparring).
“The level of competition is going up very fast,” said Julian Camacho, secretary general of the Wushu Federation of the Philippines (WFP), in Tuesday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
“Iran is very strong. Then there’s also Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and Macau.”
Over 400 athletes and officials have arrived this week to compete in the 24-nation continental tournament pitting fighters aged 18 and below.
“We’re very confident of our team,” said Bea Binene, the teen actress and wushu athlete also serving as the sport’s ambassador.
“I’ve seen the kind of training they went through. So we’re confident that we can reach our goal of winning at least five gold medals.”
Omengan, a 15-year-old from Baguio City, has been tipped to win the men’s nangun, a floor exercise using a staff as weapon, the same event he ruled in the Worlds.
Faith Liana Andaya has also been tagged as favorite after winning a silver in the women’s jianshu in last year’s world meet.
Camacho said another goal motivating the athletes is the federation’s bid to clinch its 100th overall gold medal in the weeklong tournament.
“If we get seven golds here, then we’ll reach 100,” said Camacho.
“Our six sanda bets are all first-timers, but they might pull off a surprise with their technique and skills,” said WFP deputy secretary Red Dumuk.
Yu Zaiqing, president of both the International Wushu Federation and Wushu Federation of Asia, will be the speaker during the opening rites.
Other PH bets: Dave Degala, Agatha Chrystenzen Wong, Vanessa Jo Chan, Joel Casem, Kimberly Macuha, Christian Nicholas Lapitan and Johnzenth Gajo in taolu; Noel Alabata, Thommy Aligaga, Clemente Tabugara Jr., James Daquil, Vivine Wally and Vita Zamora in sanda.