The health of the athletes will be a major priority when Team Philippines competes in the 19th Asian Games in China in September.
Chief of mission Richard Gomez told Daily Tribune that he will push for additional medical staff since the Asian Games will be held in five different venues with the main hub in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province.
Aside from the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center, games will also be held in nearby cities like Ningbo, Shaoxing, Jinhua, Huzhou, and Wenzhou, which is 310 kilometers away from the main hub.
Gomez said it’s going to be very challenging for the medical staff to accommodate the entire Team Philippines so they might as well boost it with additional personnel like physical therapists, masseuse, nurses, sports psychologists and doctors.
“Definitely, we will be using additional medical staff because there will be a lot of venues for the Asian Games this time. There are five other locations which are far away,” Gomez, also the chief of mission of the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018, said in a telephone conversation.
“Some of them are as far as 300 kilometers away and what will happen is that there will be different teams with a deputy chief of mission and their own staff.”
Gomez, the chief of the fencing federation, speaks from experience.
In fact, he was at courtside when his prized fencer, Samantha Catantan, tore her anterior cruciate ligament while competing in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia last month.
Catantan will be out of the Asian Games as she is expected to miss at least 10 months.
Still, the Philippines will be overflowing with talents as world No. 3 pole vaulter EJ Obiena, Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and star boxers Carlo Paalam, Eumir Marcial and Nesthy Petecio are all expected to compete, raising speculations that they can overcome their previous finish of four gold, two silver and 15 bronze medals.
Gomez said he will do his best to assist all the participating federations.
“What I need to do as CDM is to make sure we are sending athletes who have a chance of getting medals. I think we’ll do better this time,” Gomez said.
“All of them have directed their requests to the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) and if there are things that haven’t been given to them, I will follow it up to the PSC.”
“It is always a hope that we will do better than the last one and we want to keep our hopes high. It is now up to the NSA to continue training their athletes. I think we have a fighting chance to do better than four golds.”