40-gold haul realistic, says Philippine official Julian Camacho
JAKARTA—A total of 252 gold medals will be contested in 23 s ports scheduled in Jakarta of the 26th Southeast Asian Games, which gets going on Friday with a glitzy Opening Ceremony at Palembang province in South Sumatra.
Of the 23 sports, however, the Philippines can only be considered as threats in a very minimal number.
Julian Camacho, secretary general of the Philippine Wushu Federation and the PH contingent’s co-deputy chief of mission, is expecting a gold-medal harvest in the vicinity of 40.
“Forty-plus out of 260 is realistic,” Camacho told the Inquirer. “I think we are shooting for a higher number (of golds) in Palembang.”
The bulk of the 512-strong Philippine delegation will start arriving Monday aboard a Singapore Airline flight.
They will plane in as the Under-23 Azkals take to the pitch again against dangerous Timor Leste at the Lebak Bulus Stadium at 4 p.m. (5 p.m. in Manila).
Vietnam dealt the Azkals a sound beating Thursday afternoon, scoring three goals in the second half to post a 3-1 victory. The defeat put the Philippines in a must-win situation in all of its remaining four games to make the semifinals without a hitch.
Wushu is one of the medal-heavy events here with a total of 20 golds to be staked in a four-day span starting Nov. 18.
Only taekwondo, which has 21 gold medals up for grabs when hostilities begin on Nov. 13 at the Popki Sport Hall in Cibibur, has more championships at stake in Jakarta.
Archery, where the veteran Joan Chan-Tabañag will be seeing action again for the Philippines, is staking 10 golds like bowling and traditional boat race. Pencak Silat will have 18 championships; karate, 17; and judo, where the immortal John Baylon will compete for the nth time, 16, like cycling.
Marites Bitbit, who won cycling’s cross-country race in 2007 in Nakhorn Ratchasima in Thailand without the aid of a teammate, is entered in the 120-kilometer individual road race, the 24-km ITT and the cross country.
Olympian Toni Leviste banners the equestrian team that will shoot for a total of six gold medals starting Nov. 14 at the Arthayosa Stable Club in Depok.
Fencing has 23 athletes entered in 12 events.
One of Camacho’s brightest wushu hopes is Dembert Arcita, the reigning world champion in the 52-kilogram Sanda (contact) event. Arcita won at the world championships less than a month ago in Ankara, Turkey.
Camacho said the organizers’ decision to make the 52-kg division the lightest in the competition affected the country’s gold medal prospect in the sport.
“They got away with it,” he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.