THE country’s differently-abled athletes will be gunning for the stars as they look to bring home 27 gold medals in the 9th Asean Para Games set from September 17 to 23 in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
The target is three more than the country’s whole gold medal tally in another nightmare run in the KL Southeast Asian Games.
With a 164-strong delegation, the country’s largest since hosting the 2015 APG, hopes are high that the paraathletes will be reaching, or even exceeding that target.
Should they reach their target, it will be stark improvement from the 16 golds that they brought home from Singapore in the 2015 edition of the regional meet.
“The team is in high spirits, and if our estimation is correct, we have a strong chance of winning 27 golds, perhaps more,” said Ral Rosario, the Philippine chef de mission for the games.
Mindadro Ridor, a partially blind chess player, will be the country’s flag bearer after bringing home four golds in the 2015 edition in the visually impaired 2 division.
He will be leading a chess squad expected to take home multiple medals in this tournament alongside Fide master Sander Severino and Henry Lopez.
“Masaya ako kasi siyempre, para ito sa pamilya ko. Natutuwa sila sa akin,” said Ridor in the formal sendoff on Monday.
“Baka mas mataas pa nga po ang makuha ng chess doon kasi mas-intense ang training namin nung nakaraan,” he added.
Among the most notable names in the delegation are veterans Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta of powerlifting and Josephine Medina of Table Tennis, two athletes who have won medals in the Paralympics.
Ancheta was the first ever Philippine athlete to win a medal in the Paralympics, bagging bronze medal in the 2000 Sydney games and Medina joined her in that exclusive club by striking bronze in the 2016 Rio Games.
There will be nine Filipinos in athletics, seven in badminton, three in boccia, 17 in chess, three in cycling, six in goal ball, five in powerlifting, nine in table tennis, ten in swimming, 15 in tenpin bowling and 12 more in wheelchair basketball.