Pinoys seek gold in Para Games opener
KUALA LUMPUR – The Philippines’ differently abled team jumpstarts its campaign as it competes in goalball at the start of the ninth ASEAN Para Games at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Center here today.
Goalball coach Freddie Estacion yesterday said they are aiming high by gunning for nothing less than a gold medal on their return in the three-aside sport for blind athletes since pocketing a bronze medal in the 2005 edition hosted by the Phl.
The team will be spearheaded by Jomer Anden, Lemuel Garcia and Jolan Camacho with James dela Cerna, Jefferson Balenton and Jeff Fernando as the other members.
“We want to reach for the sky and win the gold medal here,” said Estacion.
Defending champion Thailand and host Malaysia are the teams to beat in the sport that drew seven participating nations, according to Estacion.
The biennial event, which drew 3,300 athletes, coaches and officials, will be officially ushered in tonight at the main hub, the Bukit Jalil National Stadium where the 11 member countries are parading their very best Para athletes in a display of colors and an expected extravagant opening ceremony prepared by the host country.
A total of 368 gold medals will be staked in 16 sports disciplines including 133 in centerpiece athletes and 84 in the swimming competition.
The other golds will come from archery (six), badminton (14), boccia (seven), chess (24), Para cycling (26), football (two), goalball (two), powerlifting (19), tenpin bowling (18), table tennis (27), volleyball (one), wheelchair basketball (two) and wheelchair tennis (three).
The Phl is eyeing to win at least 27 golds, the bulk of which could come from athletics, swimming and chess.
Track and field coach Joel Denada said they are looking at seven golds here after winning five in the 2015 edition in Singapore.
Jerold Mangliwan eyes to duplicate, if not surpass, his two-gold effort the last time out as he sees action in 100m and 200m for T52 division tomorrow at Bukit Jalil while Joel Balatucan seeks to win again in shotput F55 class.
Newbie Cielo Honasan, who has competed in the regular event of the Palarong Pambansa, is expected to grab the spotlight as she is the heavy favorite to win in her events – 100m, 200m and 400m.
“She will dominate her events because her times are Paralympic standard,” said Denada.
Also competing at the track are Rio Paralympic veteran Tess Burse, Cendy Asusano, Jessebel Tordecilla, Arman Dino, Isidro Vildisola, Roger Tapuz and Andy Avellana.
Swimming should also be another source of medals for the Phl as Tony Ong predicts a fourgold haul and possibly more.
Ernie Gawilan, Gary Bejino and Roland Subido won three golds in Singapore and should give it all to win again here.
The other Phl tankers are Arnel Aba, Patrick Crisostomo, Claire Caliso, Adran Azul, Judy Ann Neblaca and Edwin Villanueva.