Sports icons to inspire Team Philippines in pep rally today

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    OLYMPIC medalists Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco Jr. and Pol Serrantes lead Pinoy sports heroes who will motivate Filipino athletes competing in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in a pep rally today at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

    Bowling hall of famers Paeng Nepomuceno and Bong Coo will also provide the inspiration for the national squad to go for the overall title in the Games set on Nov. 30-Dec. 11, as well as Asia’s first chess Grandmaster Eugene Torre.

    Track and field icons Lydia De Vega-Mercado and Elma Muros-Posadas will also share their stories of triumph to 1,115 athletes in 56 sports disciplines, all of them with their sights on the overall title the country last won in 2005.

    “Our athletes are the heart and soul of the country’s campaign,” said Team Philippines chef de mission and Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez.

    Aside from Ramirez, Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino and House Speaker and Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee chairman Alan Peter Cayetano will rally the athletes, including Filipino paralympic athletes, to accomplish the feat.

    Sen. Bong Go, chairman of the Senate committee on sports, has also been invited along with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.

    “With the all-out support of the government, I’m positive that our athletes will deliver,” said Ramirez, who also led Team Philippines to its first overall title in the biennial games 14 years ago.

    Singer Bamboo, acknowledged as the prince of Philippine Rock, will be the main act during the entertainment segment of the send-off ceremony where Pilipinas, the theme song of Team Philippines will also be unveiled.

    Pilipinas will be played live by Johnny Cross and his band before other bands, among them the Juans and Silent Sanctuary, entertain the athletes, coaches, and officials.

    Majority of the gold medal for Team Philippines is expected to come from combat sports such as taekwondo, boxing, karatedo, judo, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, arnis, wushu, wrestling and muay thai.

    Athletics, aquatics, billiards, chess, dancesport, triathlon, traditional boat race, weightlifting, golf and team sports basketball, softball, baseball, ice hockey and rugby sevens are also expected to deliver gold medals.