WHILE Philippine officials hope to get better performances from athletes who missed out of the top of the podium two years ago, the pressure is on for the multiple medalists from the Singapore Games as eyes are on them as the country tries to rise in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
Focus is on Filipino-American sprinter Eric Shaun Cray, who had triumphant runs in the 100 meters and 400-m hurdles, as he leads the 498-athlete national contingent in the regional met set August 19 to 31.
The Philippines is hoping to move closer to the top-performing countries after an 11th place finish in 2011 and sixth in 2013 and 2015.
The Filipinos had 29 gold medals in Singapore and officials say 50 is achievable in KL.
Two years ago behind Thailand topped the table with 95 gold medals followed by Singapore with 84, Vietnam with 73 Malaysia with 62 and Indonesia with 47.
Fil-Am Kayla Richardson, like her athletics teammate Cray, also landed in the list of multi-medal winners and although her second medal was a silver, as she, too, is expected to be at the forefront of the Filipino athletes’ quest for glory.
Whushu artist Daniel Parantac had a gold and two silver medals as did tennis player Denise Dy and both are back to see action of the Philippines.
Also looking to retain their titles are Claire Adorna and Nikko Bryan Huelgas in triathlon, Fil-Japanese Kiyomi Watanabe in judo, Elvie Baldomino in shooting and Chezka Centeno and Dennis Orcollo in billiards and cyclist Marella Salamat .
Tom Carrasco, chairman of the joint Philippine Olympic Committee-Philippine Sports Commission SEA Games Task Force, said the delegation is expected to finish at least fifth in the 11-nation meet.
“We’re also traditionally strong in men’s basketball so, we might as well add the gold medal we expect to win this sport considered our national pastime,” Carrasco said.
“And we still have the rugby seven event where we are also the defending champion. “Marami naman talaga tayong mapagkukunan ng panalo,” he added.
“Our athletes are well-prepared and ready. They’re committed to do their best and bring honor to our country. Let’s pray for them,” Ms. Carrion, for her part said.