CHINESE-TAIPEI - Perfect weather complimented the very warm welcome extended by the hosts to Team Philippines which marched on Friday with more than 2000 athletes from 24 countries taking part in the 17th Asia Masters Athletics Championships at the modern Taipei Gymnasium here.
Asia's former long jump queen Elma Muros-Posadas shared chores with javelin thrower Erlinda Lavandia as flag bearers for the 24-athlete Team Philippines, along with four officials led by Manny Ibay, president of the National Masters and Seniors Athletic Association of the Philippines.
Muros-Posadas and Lavandia are multiple gold medal winners in this event and are the only athletes in the team, along with Emerson Obiena, to have taken part in the World Masters Athletics Championships many times in the past.
The tournament also serves as the qualifier for the World Masters Athletics Championships set in Brazil in June 2013.
Muros-Posadas and Lavandia shared at least 30 gold medals between them in their combined participation in the various editions of this event. Team Philippines expects to win at least 10 gold medals this time.
Obiena holds the record in men's 40-45 years old pole vault while Lavandia owns the women's 45-50 and 45-50 years old javelin throw records.
Ibay, however, expects his Team B to perform in medal rounds, aside from the 'A' performances expected from the top group, which include former Southeast Asian Games medallists Lerma Bulaitan-Gabito, Antonio Chee, Elenita Punelas, Danny Jarin and John Lozada.
Other members of the team are Agustin Jarina, Arnel Lobos, Aurora Ramos, Edward Obiena, Helen Castillo, John Lozada, Jose Ang Jr., Julio Bayaban, Perla Lobos, Rey Prestosa, Renato Fontanilla, Reynaldo Tomas, Rosejean Yparraguirre, Salve Bayaban, Lorna Vejano, Wilfred Adias, Margarito Baniqued and Victorina Calma.
China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Chinese-Taipei, Japan have also sent big delegations. Other participating teams are Brunei, Hong Kong, Iran, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand and Mongolia.