Cambodia 2023

Pinoy athletes brace for war

June 1, 2023 People's Tonight 200 views

PHNOM PENH—With almost everyone accounted for, the Philippines braces for war in the 12th ASEAN Para Games unfurling Saturday at the Morodok Techno National Stadium here.

The 246-strong Nationals arrived in two batches Monday and Tuesday nights with the team from e-sports, which will debut as a demo event, flying in tomorrow in time for the biennial, 12-sport spectacle in this Cambodian capital.

Walter Torres, Philippine Sports Commission board member and the country’s chef-de-mission, and deputy CDM Irene Soriano flew in a few days early with Philippine Paralympic Committee president Mike Barredo and PSC chair Richard Bachmann joining them today and Saturday night, respectively.

“It’s the biggest in the history of the ASEAN Para Games,” said Torres referring to the country’s delegation count.

“It’s really to get them going in the international scene since this is the starting point of everything.”

Torres said he was able to get a commitment from the squad in improving on their 28-30-46 (gold-silver-bronze) haul and fifth-place performance in Surakarta, Indonesia last year.

“If we make it to fourth, that would already be an achievement,” said Torres.

Athletics, chess and swimming should again carry most of the brunt of the country’s campaign after accounting for all 28 mints by the Filipinos in Surakarta a year back.

Coaches Tony Ong of swimming and Joel Deriada of athletics echoed the same target of eclipsing, if not replicating, their hauls of 12 and six in the last staging of this biennial competition.

The fantastic swimmers, headed by flag-bearer and triple-gold winner Ariel Aligarbes, will have 12 entries, the same number of gold they won in Surakarta, while the Jerold Mangliwan-led brady athletics bunch has 23.

The magnificent woodpushers of quadruple gold medalist Sander Severino should also come into the games expecting a golden juggernaut after scooping up a whopping 10 the last time out.

There is also optimism that the country could produce golden moments in other disciplines including the awe-inspired men’s wheelchair basketball, which booked a direct spot to the Hangzhou Asian Games this October after a historic bronze medal effort in the Asia-Oceania title in Thailand last month.

“Gawin lang naming lahat ng aming makakaya para maka gold,” said skipper Rene Macabenguil, who was part of the country’s best finish in the games—a silver last year in 2005 back in Manila.