KUALA LUMPUR — The goalball team opens its gold medal bid today that the Philippines’ chef de mission hopes will set the stage for the country’s ambitious 27 gold medal target as the ninth ASEAN Para Games comes off the wraps Sunday at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
Goalball coach Freddie Estacion is looking to make the most out of its return to competition by gunning for nothing less than a gold after last competing in the 2005 staging in Manila where they got a bronze.
The team will be spearheaded by Jomer Anden, Lemuel Garcia and Jolan Camacho with James dela Cerna, Jefferson Balenton and Jeff Fernando as the other members in a sport where defending champion Thailand and host Malaysia are expected to contend for the top honors.
“We’re aiming high and we’re going for the gold,” said Estacion.
Partially blind chesser and flag-bearer Minandro Ridor will lead the Philippine delegation during the traditional parade of participating countries, a role he received after emerging the best performing Filipino in the 2015 Singapore edition.
Ral Rosario, the chef de mission, is optimistic the Philippines will pocket 27 golds, which will be a big improvement to its 16-gold haul in Singapore.
Joining Ridor and Rosario in leading the lean but mean 111-member delegation are Philippine Paralympic Committee president Michael Barredo and board member Kiko Diaz and Philippine Sports Commissioner Arnold Agustin.
A total of 368 gold medals will be at staked in 16 sports disciplines including 133 in centerpiece athletes and 84 in swimming.
The other golds will come from archery (six), badminton (14), boccia (seven), chess (24), para cycling (26), football (two), goalball (two), powerlifting (19), tenpin bowling (18), table tennis (27), volleyball (one), wheelchair basketball (two) and wheelchair tennis (three).
Track and field coach Joel Denada said they are looking at seven golds here after winning five in the 2015 edition in Singapore.
Jerold Mangliwan eyes to duplicate, if not surpass, his two-gold effort the last time out as he sees action in 100m and 200m for T52 division Monday at Bukit Jalil while Joel Balatucan seeks to win again in shotput F55 class.
Newbie Cielo Honasan, who has competed in the regular event of the Palarong Pambansa, is expected to grab the spotlight as she is the heavy favorite to win in her events: the100m, 200m and 400m.
Also competing in the track are Rio Paralympic veteran Tess Burse, Cendy Asusano, Jessebel Tordecilla, Arman Dino, Isidro Vildisola, Roger Tapuz and Andy Avellana.
Swimming should also be another source of medals for the Phl as Tony Ong predicts a four-gold haul and possibly more.
Ernie Gawilan, Gary Bejino and Roland Subido won three golds in Singapore.
Tags: Bukit Jalil, Bukit Jalil National Stadium, chef de mission, Freddie Estacion, James dela Cerna, Jeff Fernando, Jefferson Balenton, Jolan Camacho, Jomer Anden, Lemuel Garcia, Minandro Ridor, Philippine delegation, Philippine Paralympic Committee, Ral Rosario, the Philippines
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