By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino is confident the country can surpass its previous Asian Games performance following the athletes’ successful campaign in the recent 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia.
Tolentino said they have already started assessing the team’s composition to the quadrennial meet, where they target to send more or less 400 athletes.
The 19th Asian Games is slated Sept. 23 to Oct. 8 in Hangzhou, China.
“Siguradong malalagpasan natin yon,” said Tolentino during the resumption of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex Tuesday, May 23.
At the 2018 edition held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia, the PH team sent 271 athletes and went home with four gold, two silver and 15 bronze medals.
Tolentino pins his hopes on elite and world-class athletes such as pole vaulter EJ Obiena as well as Tokyo Olympics medalists weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and boxers Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial to carry the fight for the PH team in China.
He also noted that pro golfers could compete in the Asiad, making Bianca Pagdanganan eligible for the PH team.
Pagdanganan, along with Yuka Saso and Lois Kaye Go, bagged the women’s team event gold in the last edition.
“Tinatapos na namin yung listahan for the Asian Games,” Tolentino said.
“We started with gold and silver medalists in the SEAG, but not all kasi walang laro yung iba don. We also looked at our athletes with world and Asian rankings na hindi naglaro sa SEAG like baseball, softball, rugby 7s, archery and so on,” he added.
At the SEAG held in Cambodia, the PH collected 58 gold, 65 silver and 117 bronze medals.
The upcoming Asiad will feature 482 events in 40 sports.