The Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) will hold a sendoff ceremony for the country’s Asian Games delegation on Monday at Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Manila.
A total of 396 Filipino athletes from 40 sports accompanied by 163 officials will be flying to Hangzhou, China, to join the 45-nation meet, with PSC commissioner Olivia “Bong” Coo urging the national standouts to give it their best for flag and country.
“They have to believe in themselves that they can win. That was my mindset in every game that I played in the Asian Games,’’ said Coo, the legendary bowler who won a record three gold medals in the 1978 Bangkok Asian Games.
Coo, the first Filipino to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records twice, claimed two more golds in the 1982 edition of the continental Olympics in Seoul. Her two silvers and two bronzes put her Asiad medal count at nine, just one short of Philippine swimming hall of famer Haydee Coloso’s record of 10.
The legendary Caloy Loyzaga won four gold medals with the men’s basketball team from 1951 to 1962.
Better than 2018
“It’s different when you know you are playing for our flag and the entire country is behind you,’’ said Coo, now 75.
The country is hoping to better its four-gold output from the 2018 edition in Indonesia, pinning its hopes on Olympians like Tokyo weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo, boxing silver medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam and bronze medalist Eumir Marcial, world No. 2 pole vaulter EJ Obiena and swimmer Kayla Noelle Sanchez, who represented Canada in the Summer Games before shifting her allegiance to the Philippines.
The 2018 women’s skateboarding champion Margielyn Didal and karatekas Jamie Lim and World Games champion Junna Tsukii are likewise medal potentials, alongside jiujitsu world champions Meggie Ochoa and Annie Ramirez.
World Cup squads Filipinas in women’s football and Gilas Pilipinas in men’s basketball will have glitter and medal hopes for the country, along with tennis star and 2022 US Open junior women’s singles champion Alex Eala. INQ
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