NATHANIEL `Tac’ Padilla, the country’s chef de mission to the Asian Youth Games, hopes the inspiring performance of Gilas Pilipinas in the recent Fiba-Asia Championship, would rub off on the entire Philippine delegation to the weeklong meet set to kick off in Nanjing, China this Friday.
“Our athletes must have seen what our Gilas team did in the Fiba-Asia. Hopefully, they would do the same, lalaban at pipiliting makakuha ng medalya para sa bayan. That they will rely on their hearts and never-say-die spirit,” said the multi-titled shooter in the weekly PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate on Tuesday.
The main bulk of the PH contingent – numbering 71 in all including 54 athletes – will be leaving on Thursday for the August 16-24 multi-sports event, barely four days after Gilas Pilipinas finished a surprise runner-up to Iran in the Fiba-Asia meet to clinch a berth in the 2014 Fiba-World Cup in Spain.
The country will be competing in 13 of 15 events to be contested, where Padilla is pinning his hopes on athletics, golf, taekwondo, rugby, and shooting.
And the chef de mission is confident of a victory or victories for the Filipinos.
“This is the strongest youth team we have ever prepared,” said Padilla.
Other events where the Filipino athletes will compete include badminton, 3-on-3 basketball, fencing, judo, swimming, lawn tennis, table tennis, and weightlifting.
Padilla however, has one major concern for the Filipino athletes.
“It’s the weather,” said the five-time Southeast Asian Games champion as forecast for the coming days goes as high as 40 degrees Celsius.
“Napakainit,” Padilla said of China’s summer weather.
But regardless of the weather, he said all Filipino athletes are all set to compete as they try to surpass the one silver and one bronze medal the country won in the 2009 edition of the meet in Singapore.
The silver medal came in bowling and the bronze in athletics. Bowling, however, is not included in this year’s calendar.
“We hope to surpass that,” said Padilla, who was only 12 years old when he won a gold in the 1976 World Junior Shooting Championships in Mexico.
Padilla thanked the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for the support to the delegation.