ATHLETICS chief Philip Ella Juico is bullish about the chances of the national track and field team in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, hoping to hear the national anthem played six times, if not more, at the world-class New Clark City Stadium in Capas, Tarlac next week.
“And (when) you get to win (the gold medal), please sing the national anthem from the heart,” the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president told the athletes yesterday in the Team Philippine send-off party at the Marriott Hotel inside the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga.
“The day of reckoning is at hand so prepare hard and prepare smart,” added the bespectacled former Philippine Sports Commission chairman in the event supported by Soleus and Milo 10 days before athletic action unfolds at the 20,000-seat arena.
Present during the occasion were Milo sports executive Lester Castillo and Soleus marketing officer Judith Staples.
Among those tipped to deliver gold medals are defending SEA Games women’s marathon champion Mary Joy Tabal, who sees action on Dec. 6 at the Clark Freeport Zone, and Olympic-bound pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, who sees action the next day at the NCC stadium.
Other top prospects are reigning SEA Games men’s 400-meter hurdles champion Eric Shawn Cray as well as fellow Fil-Am Carter Lilly, who is tipped to contend for the gold in the men’s 800-meter run.
Fil-Am sprinters Zion Corrales-Nelson and Kristina Knott will be out to challenge Vietnam sprint queen Le Tu Chinh, who swept the 100 and 200-meter dashes in the 2017 Malaysia SEA Games, while considered a darkhorse is triple jumper Mark Harry Diones.
Diones, who bagged a silver medal two years ago, is expected to challenge Malaysian gold medalist Muhammad Hakimi Ismail, who leapt 16.77 meters to win the event, just .07 meters off the Filipino’s personal best of 16.72 meters., according to national coach Jojo Posadas.
“Jumps are anybody’s game and considering that there are six jumps, just a huge one could spell the difference,” Posadas noted.
Another SEA Games newcomer, Fil-Am William Morrision III, also looms as a potential gold medalist in shot put and discus throw. His personal best of 20.22 meters in the shot put is superior to the gold-medal heave of 17.42 meters of Thailand’s Promrob Juntina in Kuala Lumpur two years ago.
“These athletes have all trained hard and we hope all of the efforts they have done will produce results in the SEA Games,” Juico said.