By WAYLON GALVEZ
Veteran international campaigner Roy Cañete will be aiming for the gold medal in his return to the national team when he competes in the open water competition in the 29th edition of the Southeast Asian Games set Aug. 19 to 30 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Cañete, who last swam during the 2007 SEA Games in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand when he helped the water polo national team capture a second straight silver medal, will compete in the open water event for the first time in the biennial event.
In his preparation for the SEA Games, the 36-year-old Cañete submitted a time of two hours and 13 minutes in the 10-kilometer event during the 2nd Pilipinas International Beach Sports Festival last Sunday in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
A native of General Santos City, Cañete’s time was faster than that of Ba Anh Tu Chau of Vietnam who clocked two hours, 14 minutes and 32 seconds in the 10-km swim during the 2011 SEA Games in Palembang, Indonesia.
“First time ko lumangoy sa 10km, so based sa performance ko malaki ang chance natin na manalo ng gold medal,” said Cañete yesterday. “Sa tingin ko din kaya ko pa ma-improve yung time ko.”
Competing in the open water swimming is not new to Cañete since he – following his retirement from the water polo national team back in 2007 when he decided to work abroad – participated in a tournament in Dubai.
However, it was only in shorter distances that Cañete won gold medals as he captured the 6.5-km, 1.5km and 800-meters titles in 2011 and 2012. In the SEA Games this year, he will be competing in the 5km and 10km open water swimming events.
“With several months left before the SEA Games, may panahon pa naman si Roy para mag-improve,” said coach Dale Evangelista, a former teammate of Cañete’s in water polo.
“Nagpe-peak pa lang naman si Roy e, kaya kung ganun ang time nung huling nag-gold medal sa men’s open water, malaki ang chance niya na mag-gold medal sa SEA Games,” added Evangelista.
In the women’s side, Filipino-American Courtney Tan-Gray and Erika Lukang also did well in their preparation, with the former winning the gold medal with a time of two hours and 38 minutes.
Evangelista is also confident that the two open water swimmers are capable of winning a medal in KL.
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