Team Pilipinas begins its campaign in the 2019 Arafura Games on Saturday with athletes from weightlifting, athletics, and swimming looking to win a medal in Day One of the competitions.
Kate Diaz, niece of 2016 Olympics silver medalist and 2018 Asian Games gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz, will vie for a gold medal as the lone entry of the Philippines in women’s weightlifting at the Darwin Convention Centre.
Franz Jonard Lorejo and Bruce Pernia will see action in the men’s javelin throw, while Evangeline Caminong and Shairadell Matillosa will battle in the women’s long jump at the Mararra Sports Precint in the country’s campaign supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and Standard Insurance.
The women’s 200-meter freestyle relay team of Zoemarie Hilario, Chloe Apin, Lora Micah Amogius, and Maika Samantha Gonzaga, and the men’s 200-meter freestyle relay of Elson Jake Rodriguez, Juan Antonio Mendoza, Aaron Dave Alinsub, and Fritz Jun Rodriguez will look to top their event at the Parap Swimming Pool.
The 15-year-old Diaz, whose father and coach Catalino is a cousin of Hidilyn, looks forward to representing the Philippines as she is also getting a bit of advice from her aunt, who recently bagged three silver medals in the Asian Weightlifting Championship in Ningbo, China.
“Medyo kinakabahan pero excited. Feeling na eto na, andito na ‘yung lahat ng ginawa kong training kasama si papa, magpepay off na dito. Puwede pa akong manalo ng medal representing the country,” said Diaz, who will compete in the women’s 45 kilogram category.
“Minsan ang payo niya (Hidilyn) sa akin last time na nanalo ako, wag akong mag-relax. Dapat, pag-igihan ko pa at mag-visualize pa ng mas mataas na goal,” said Diaz.
Wally Espino, the team’s head coach, expressed confidence about the Philippines’ chances of winning a medal in the athletics which will be held until Monday.
Espino also said most of the athletes were also fresh from winning medals in the 10th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-Northern Territory-East Asian Friendship Games (BIMP-EAGA) last year.
“Sa team natin, may laban naman tayo kasi nung last time sa Brunei, maraming nakuhang medals. Likewise, hindi ko sinasabing makukuha natin lahat, pero pupuwesto tayo,” said Espino.
Meanwhile, the Arafura Games will formally open on Friday night at the Darwin Waterfront with muay athlete Phillip Delarmino set to lead the 91-man Team Philippines by carrying the flag during the hostilities.