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Tiebreaker Times

2017 SEA Games

Team Philippines get fitting send off to SEA Games

Days before another staging of the biennial Southeast Asian Games, the 493-strong Philippine delegation received a warm send-off on Thursday evening at the CITEM Golden Pavilion in Pasay City.

The top officials of both the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee were on hand to give their words of encouragement.

Chairman Butch Ramirez of the PSC took all those in attendance down memory lane and asked the athletes to emulate the example of the country’s great Olympians from the very first medalist, Teofilo Ildefonso of swimming, to the latest, Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting.

“This story of these great men and women is important to our athletes tonight. As what the Tagalog saying says, ‘Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makararating sa paroroonan'” he said.

“It is not true that if you are sixth place in the last SEA Games, the sports here [are] deteriorating.”

He also appealed to the athletes to dedicate their performance to every Filipino — from their fellow athletes who are suffering from diseases, to the soldiers in Marawi, up to each and every one of the Filipino people.

Long-time POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco echoed this appeal. He also shared what most other countries say of our own athletes.

“Regardless of what medal our Filipino athlete gets, they have high respect for them. The reason is that the fighting spirit is always there.

“Go there as a Filipino, go there as a sportsman,” he ended.

Chef de Mission Cynthia Carion then received a bouquet of flowers as a symbol of support of the whole nation to the Team Philippines on stage, represented by select athletes from all the sports events the country is participating in Kuala Lumpur.

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Carion, who is also the head of the Philippine Gymnastics Association, assured that everything is in order. She shared, “All of the team managers had noted of their own problems, and they took care of their teams.”

The gymnastics head also narrated their experience just to iron out all requirements. “You know it took us fifteen hours in Malaysia just to fix everything from arrival to departure, [including] accommodation and [the schedule of] sports events. Ang dami pero naayos na,” she furthered.

The delegation chief shares that they are looking to pocket 52 gold medals in order to possibly improve on the sixth-place finish two years ago in Singapore. For Carion, these mints could come from “lawn bowls is one sport we are looking at, also boxing, billiards, wushu, [and] taekwondo.”

Her own gymnastics squad aims to duplicate or even surpass their four-medal haul, as veteran Reyland Cappelan goes to defend his floor title and to add the vault.

Both football teams kick off Team Philippines’ campaign on August 15, at the same time at 8:45 pm. The Men’s U-22 squad takes on Cambodia, while the Women’s side battles host Malaysia.

The Games formally open on August 19 at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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