The Philippine Olympic Committee leadership believes the prospects are looking good for the Philippines to surpass its previous production of four gold medals when the country competes in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China this September.
“I am certain that we will surpass that,” POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said during yesterday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
When Jakarta staged the 18th Asiad in 2018, the Philippines hauled four gold medals aside from getting two silver and 15 bronze medals that propelled the country to 19th place.
Tolentino feels the Philippine team to Hangzhou will be oozing with world-class talent with the possible inclusion of two-time Olympic medalist swimmer Kayla Sanchez, who is Filipino-Canadian lineage, and one or two more world-caliber bets.
In Jakarta, the Philippines got two gold medals from golfer Yuka Saso, who shone bright in the individual and team event. Skater Margilyn Didal and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz provided the other two.
Energized by the mighty showing of the Philippines in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia despite the absence of several elite entries, Tolentino swears the 2023 batch looks poised to deliver more than four gold medals during the 23 September to 8 October sportsfest.
“We still have weightlifting and boxing,” added Tolentino, fully aware that the Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist will be a top favorite alongside Olympic champion Diaz and world No. 3 pole vaulter EJ Obiena in their respective events.
Diaz is not the only option given that Elreen Ando and Vanessa Sarno are itching to come up with big performances as well alongside tennis ace Alex Eala and US-based professional golfer Bianca Pagdanganan.
Apart from Marcial, boxing also has Olympic silver medalists Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio.
As of yesterday, the POC said the number of athletes to China will number over 400 considering that those who stood out in Phnom Penh are shoo-ins for the Asian Games delegation.
In Jakarta, the Philippines sent 272 athletes who competed in 31 sports.
Meanwhile, the POC said national sports associations that intend to send bets to Hangzhou can do so provided that they finance their own.
“I will be saying in our GA (General Assembly) that for those who were not endorsed for funding, they can still proceed with the Asian Games but will be in Group B (self-financed by the NSA),” Tolentino added.