Pi­noys seek gold in Para Games opener

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS - by JOEY VILLAR

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.

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