PH bid in Aimag goes in full swing
ASHGABAT—The Philippine campaign in the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games goes into full swing on Monday as Filipino fighters from ju-jitsu, taekwondo and wrestling together with the national tracksters figure in a tight and demanding contest for success.
Southeast Asian Games 400m hurdles champion Eric Cray will test his forte in the men’s 60m hurdles against the fastest hurdlers in the continent while former Asian long-jump queen Marestella Torres is scheduled to compete in her pet event at the Indoor Athletics Arena here.
Grapplers Michael Vijay Cater (men’s classic -57kg), Jonathan Maquilan (-62kg), Jhonny Morte (-68kg), Jefferson Manatad (-75kg), Cristof Hoffman Jr. (-90kg), Grace Loberanes (women’s classic -52kg) and Noemi Tener (-58kg) will also hunt for medals in today’s traditional wrestling.
Taekwondo jin Ronna Levita Ilao faces Fatemeh Madahi of Iran in the round of 16 of the women’s -46kg category while Southeast Asian Games champion Samuel Morrison (men’s -75kg) and Jener Torillos (-54kg) are likewise expected to contend for a podium finish.
An air of optimism surrounds the opening salvo of the country’s ju-jitsu specialists starring Alexander Lim (men’s ne-waza -69kg), Terrence Hansel Co (-77kg), Gilbert Ombao (-94kg), Asian champion Apryl Eppinger (women’s ne-waza -62kg) and Lou-Ann Jindani (-70kg).
Host Turkmenistan welcomed more than 6,000 athletes from 62 countries in a grandiose opening ceremony amid a splashy display of sounds, lights, fireworks, amusing visualsand cultural presentations on Sunday night.
For the 116 Filipino athletes lined up in 17 of the 21 sports, it will be all business until the closing rites on Sept. 27 of the biggest continental indoor games in history due to the inclusion of the Oceania region headed by Olympic powerhouse Australia and New Zealand.
Prior to the opener, the Philippines already snatched a bronze medal courtesy of wrestler Alvin Lobreguito in the men’s freestyle -57kg category in traditional wrestling.
“It was a good start for us and we’re looking forward to winning more medals as the tournament progresses,” said Philippine chef de mission and Makati City representative Monsour Del Rosario, who has Philippine Karatedo Federation secretary general Raymund Lee Reyes as deputy CDM.
Philippine Olympic Committee president Peping Cojuangco is also monitoring the performances of the athletes together with POC 1st vice president Joey Romasanta, POC secretary general Steve Hontiveros and POC board member Robert Mananquil in this Central Asian nation known for its massive natural gas reserves.
“We all know that competition here in the Aimag is tough. But I never doubt the ability of our athletes to come up with their best effort to get a medal,” said Cojuangco.
A total of 41 gold medals are at stake on Monday with Filipino athletes entered in 19 events. The 12-day sportsfest is organized by the Olympic Council of Asia.
Joining Cray and Torres in the gold-medal hunt in athletics are middle-distance runners Mervin Guarte and Marco Vilog in the men’s 800m and another long-jumper in Janry Ubas.
Torres and Cray are going for a podium finish on the same day while Guarte, Vilog and Ubas should sparkle in their qualifying heats to reach the finals scheduled the following day.
In the previous edition of the Aimag in 2013 Incheon, dancesport bets Cherry Clarice Parcon and Gerald Jamili won a gold and a bronze. Cue artist Rubilen Amit also brought home a bronze.
“I don’t make predictions but I’m pretty optimistic that our athletes can make us proud,” said Del Rosario, also the secretary general of the Philippine Taekwondo Association. “They are relaxed and seemed to be confident.”
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