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Biggest wave leaves for KL in 2 batches

Almost 400 athletes and officials will leave on Aug. 17 and 18 – the biggest wave from the 700-strong Philippine delegation – in time for the opening of the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia.

While there would already be hostilities in football, aquatics and archery before the formal Aug. 19 inaugurals in Malaysia, the main bulk won’t be checking into their hotels until a couple of days before the kickoff celebrations, SEAG Task Force chief Tom Carrasco said yesterday.

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“Those two days, there will be about 195 people leaving for KL on each day” said Carrasco.

In fact even before the opening, chief of mission Cynthia Carrion is attending a crucial meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 8 and will immediately head back to Manila to attend the sendoff for the delegation on Aug. 10.

A courtesy call at Malacacang is also being arranged.

Nearly 500 athletes – 497 to be exact – have been approved for inclusion in the Aug. 19-30 SEAG.

The Philippines is nursing hopes of improving on its lowly sixth-place finish two eyars ago in Singapore when it could only come up with 29 gold medals.

Carrion swears this batch can win between 40-50 golds, figures that should propel it to fifth or even fourth place behind the traditional powers Thailand, host Malaysia, Indonesia and surging Vietnam.

Malaysia wants no less than a first place finish so it duplicates its 2001 placing but Thailand is right up there not to make that happen.