THE Philippine athletics team is unfazed by the high expectations put upon its shoulders when it sees action in the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) president Philip Ella Juico confidently declared on Wednesday about the capability of the 36-man squad to win as many as eight to 12 golds in the June 6-15 biennial meet.
But instead of being pressured, members of the team said they are even more motivated to perform better owing to the renewed vibrant within the Patafa leadership and the entry of several sponsors to help the highly-touted track and field squad.
“Sabi nga ni Marestella (Torres, long jumper) kanina, sendoff party pa lang, panalo na,” said hammer thrower Arniel Ferrera, one of the veterans of the national squad, during the sendoff party tendered by the association to the team on Thursday at the posh Marriott Hotel.
“Sinisigurado po namin na kung hindi niyo kami tatalikuran, ganun din po ang gagawin namin para sa bayan,” said Ferrera during the same event also made possible by watch industry players Timestudio, and Veloci Time.
Juico reiterated in his speech that he’s sticking with his earlier prediction as he is leaning on decathlete Jesson Cid, sprinter Eric Cray and Archand Bagsit, long distance runners Christopher Ulboc, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, hammer thrower Caleb Stuart, and long jumpers Marestella Torres and Henry Dagmil.
“We’ve done my calculation in the past. It looks like it’s reasonable,” he said “Several are in the 50-50 so we’ll be lucky with 12. I’m sticking with that.”
If this year’s track and field team delivers, it will match the best ever gold medal haul of the Philippines in the SEA Games with 12 achieved during the 1983 edition held in Singapore. The legendary Lydia De Vega anchored the team’s campaign back then.
Also in 2005 when the meet was last held here, the Filipinos won a total of nine golds in athletics.
“It’s a happy problem,” admitted Juico, the former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman, referring to the high expectations facing the team.
“It’s a good problem. At least, hindi sila aalis without people saying na walang mangyayari diyan.”
Other members of the team are 2012 Olympian Rene Herrera, Edgardo Alejan, Junrey Bano, Mervin Guarte, Eduardo Buenavista, Patrick Unso, Wenlie Maulas, Rafael Poliquit, Clinton Bautista, Ryan Bigyan, Joan Caido, Janry Ubas, Roldan Verano, Mark Harry Diones, Donovant Arriola, Tyler Ruiz, Narcisa Atienza, Rosie Villarito, Katherine Khay Santos, Riezel Buenaventura, Evalyn Palabrica, Mary Grace Delos Santos, Princess Joy Griffey, Mary Joy Tabal, Kayla Anise Richardson, Kyla Ashley Richardson, and Jessica Lyn Barnard.