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Despite Team Phl’s slow start, Bachmann remains hopeful

PSC chairman Richard ‘Dickie’ Bachmann remains optimistic over the chances of Team Philippines in the 19th Asian Games. | photograph by JULIUS MANICAD for the Daily Tribune

HANGZHOU, China — Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richard “Dickie” Bachmann is not yet losing hope, saying that Filipino athletes can still deliver despite their slow start in the 19th Asian Games here.

In a conversation with Filipino sportswriters, Bachmann said he is counting on athletes like EJ Obiena, Alex Eala, Hidilyn Diaz, and the national boxers to come up with a strong performance and jack up the medal tally of Team Philippines.

So far, the Philippines official has four bronze medals courtesy of Patrick King Perez of taekwondo, and wushu bets Jones Inso, Gideon Fred Padua and Clemente Tabugara Jr.

They, however, suffered disappointment after prized athletes Kayla Sanchez, Margielyn Didal, and Irish Magno failed to deliver.

Sanchez, a two-time Olympic medalist for Canada, has yet to win a single medal entering the last two days of swimming competition while Didal was dethroned in the women’s street event of the skateboarding competition after suffering a nagging ankle injury.

Magno, a Tokyo Olympian, also fell by the wayside as she bowed to Nigina Ukmatova of Uzbekistan in the Round of 16 of the women’s 54-kilogram event.

Still, Bachmann, whose agency bankrolled the training and participation of Team Philippines in the Asian Games, remains hopeful.

“I’m still hoping,” Bachmann said, adding that they can still surpass their previous achievement of four gold medals in the previous Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.

“I’m still confident that we will beat last year’s medal of four golds. I was with (boxing chairman) Ricky Vargas last night and he told me that they can get at least two medals.  I’m looking at EJ Obiena, I’m looking at Alex Eala, and other athletes who can pull off a surprise.”

Obiena, the second-best pole vaulter in the world, is the country’s brightest hope as he is holding the Asian record of 6.0 meters.

Eala also delivered after breezing through the semifinals of the women’s singles event after posting stunning victories over Sarah Ibrahim Khan of Pakistan and Rutuja Bonsale in the preliminaries and Kyoka Okamura of Japan in the quarterfinals.

She, however, fell prey to Women’s Tennis Association No. 23 Zheng Qinwen in the Last Four to settle for the bronze medal.

Wushu fighter Arnel Mandal also pulled off a surprise after he grabbed the silver medal in the men’s 56-kilogram sanda event early Thursday.

Bachmann, however, made special mention of Diaz and the vaunted weightlifting team featuring rising stars Vanessa Sarno, Rosegie Ramos and Elreen Ando.

“You still have your weightlifting. Hopefully, they can add,” said Bachmann, who has been busy visiting the athletes and watching their games together with PSC executive director Paulo Tatad.

“What we’re doing now is going around, watching a full game, be it no medal or medal chances. We’re here to show support.”

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