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350 practitioners in national tourney

In a bid to bolster its national training pool, the Muay Thai Association of the Philippines is set to hold a four-day National Championship at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

The Dec. 15-18 meet will gather a total of 350 athletes representing 35 member clubs and 20 non-affiliated in what easily is the biggest tournament featuring muay thai practitioners all over the country.

A total of 40 gold medals will be at stake in the event that is divided in senior and junior (or kids) categories.

Even more, assistant coach Precious Ocaya, who was guest in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum Tuesday at Shakey’s Malate, said tournament winners will be considered for possible inclusion in the national team, where it currently has only 12 members – three women and nine men.

“Labing-dalawang athletes lang kami ngayon. Yung mga makikita namin na may potential at iba pang madidiskubre ay posibleng maisama namin sa binubuo ngayon na bagong national team,” said Ocaya, joined in the session presented by San Miguel Corp., Accel, Shakey’s, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. by coach Roland Claro and the duo of Rudzma Abubakar and Ghenyan Berdon, gold and silver medalists in the 2016 World Championship.

“First time po ito mangyayari sa muay na magkakaharap-harap at magsasama-sama ang pinakamaraming grupo, clubs, at atleta sa buong bansa,” Claro said for his part.

The four-day tournament also serves as selection process for the association’s campaign in next year’s Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

Being a Muslim country, there will be no women competitors in muay thai during the KL Games, where categories in 54 kgs., 60 kgs., 63.5 kgs., 67 kgs., and 71 kgs. are at stake.

The country’s three bronze medalists in the recent Asian Beach Games in Danang, Vietnam, namely Philip Belarmino, Jonathan Polosan and Harold Gregorio are so far the top bets of the national team for the SEA Games.

Meanwhile standouts in the juniors or kids category will represent the Philippines in the World Youth Championships in Bangkok, Thailand in September of next year.

“Yung mga bata (na madiscover) doon natin ilalagay sa World Youth,” said Ocaya.

Other international events on tap for the federation include the World Championships in Belarus and the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan.

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