272 Asian Games athletes meet Duterte in Malacañang
Expecting to draw stellar performances from at least five sports, the Philippine delegation to the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia is priming up for a far better finish in the biggest sportsfest of the continent.
Filipino athletes, all 272 of them from 35 sports, have more reason to be inspired since no less than President Duterte will rally behind them in a sendoff ceremony today at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace.
Mr. Duterte’s fighting words should be enough to motivate the Philippine contingent, which is hard-pressed to erase a forgettable single-gold output during the 45-country meet four years ago in Incheon, South Korea.
Philippine chef de mission and Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez would rather not make any prediction on the team’s medal production, but based on the Inquirer’s prognosis, Team Philippines is capable of landing five gold medals at the most this time around.
Jiujitsu specialists Meggie Ochoa and Annie Ramirez are Asian champions, having captured the two gold medals of the country during the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (Aimag) in Turkmenistan last year.
Gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo is a reliable medal bet not only in the Asian Games, but in the coming 2020 Tokyo Olympics as well following his twin silver-medal performances in the men’s floor event and vault in the 2018 Doha and Baku World Cups, respectively, last March.
The 18-year-old Yulo, who also got a bronze medal in the vault during the Melbourne World Cup a month before, had beaten the world’s best gymnasts to the podium in three separate high-level tournaments.
Filipino dragonboat paddlers are also world-class, seizing three gold medals in the ICF Dragonboat World Championships in Russia and five gold medals in the Asian championships two years ago.
They showed the same kind of grit when the paddlers won the men’s 10-seater 200-meter race and 500m event in the Asian Dragon Boat Championships last month in Dali, China.
Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz is a golden opportunity in weightlifting, sailor Geylord Coveta is a former world champion in windsurfing while Filipino boxers, taekwondo jins, bowlers and the women’s softball team have what it takes to get to the top.
Skateboarder Margielyn Arda Didal, Gerald Verosil of sports climbing and BMX rider Daniel Caluag, the lone gold medalist in Incheon, are also considered gold potentials.
A total of 63 coaches are joining the delegation.
Partylist Rep. Mikee Romero (1 Pacman) also called on the athletes to cultivate a winning attitude.
“Don’t be discouraged with what’s happening around and stay focused,” said Romero. “Make full use of this opportunity to shine and be role models to aspiring PH team members.”
Romero said winning medals of any color is not the ultimate prize “but it is how you carry yourself and the manner you fight.”