HANGZHOU, China — The Philippine Athletics’ team tasked to end a three-decade medal drought in the Asian Games is expected to arrive in Hangzhou, China in three batches, led by Southeast Asian Games’ long jump champion Janry Ubas and company on Tuesday.
Ubas, the current SEA Games’ long-jump record holder at 8.08 meters, is planing in from Manila on Tuesday with Ronnie Malipay, Sarah Dequinan, Robyn Brown, Kristina Knott, Angel Frank, Lauren Hoffman, athletics’ secretary general and team manager Edward Kho, his deputy Jasper Tanhueco and coach Dario de Rosas.
Coming in on Wednesday are John Tolentino, Willie Morrison and Eric Cray, before coach Isidro Del Prado, Michael del Prado, Joyme Sequita, Frederick Ramirez, Umajesty Williams, Jessel Lumapas and Maureen Schrijvers arrive on 30 September.
Only Asia’s top pole vaulter and world’s No. 2 Ernest John Obiena, who did Philippine flag-carrying duty on Saturday night in the opening ceremonies, is so far accounted for.
“The Philippine Athletics Team is raring to see action in Hangzhou. We are keen on contributing to a distinctive Asian Games’ campaign of the whole Team Philippines. Our athletes are ready,” said Kho, who acknowledged the support of the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee and team sponsors ICTSI and CEL Logistics, Inc. to the Filipinos’ campaign.
The Philippines’ brightest bet naturally has to be Obiena, who is raring to bounce back from his seventh-place finish with a mere 5.3 meters in the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. The 27-year-old Obiena has improved significantly since then, with a personal best of 6.00 meters, also the Asian record.
If he lives up to his status as favorite here, Obiena will be the first Filipino to bag a medal in the Asiad athletics since Elma Muros-Posadas brought home the bronze in the women’s long jump of the 1994 quadrennial meet in Hiroshima, Japan.
Obiena shoots for the gold on 30 September, the same day heptathlete Dequinan plunges into action at the 55,893-seat Huanglong Sports Center.
A day before, though, Knott and Ubas see action in the 100-meters and long jump, respectively.
On 1 October, Knott also takes part in the 200 meters, while Tolentino and Morrison test their mettle in the 110-m hurdles and shotput, respectively.
Brown and SEA Games’ 200-m legend Cray then join the hostilities on 2 October in the 400m, before the 4×400 relay teams of (women) Schrijvers, Manibog, Hoffman and Frank, and (men) Williams, Prado, Sequita and Ramirez, take the field, with triple-jumper jumper Malipay.