FILIPINO athletes and officials have started to arrive by batches in Phnom Penh for the Cambodia 12th Asean Para Games that open Saturday at the Morodok Techno National Stadium.
Team Philippines is 246-strong with athletes in e-sports, a demo event, flying in Friday ahead of the main bulk for for the biennial 12-sport competitions Cambodia is hosting after the 32nd Southeast Asian Games that closed two weeks ago.
Philippine Sports Commission commissioner Walter Torres, who’s chef de mission to the games, and his deputy Irene Soriano flew in a few days earlier. Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) president Mike Barredo is expected Thursday and PSC chairman Richard Bachmann Saturday in time for the opening ceremony.
“It’s the biggest in the history of the ASEAN Para Games,” said Torres referring to the country’s delegation. “It’s to get them going in the international scene since this is the starting point of everything.”
Torres said he got a commitment from the PPC to improve on the 28-30-46 (gold-silver-bronze) haul for a fifth-place performance in Surakarta, Indonesia, last year.
Athletics, chess and swimming should again be the main source of gold medals having hauled all 28 mints in Surakarta.
Coaches Tony Ong of swimming is eyeing to break the 12 golds won in Indonesia and so is Joel Deriada of athletics who wants more than six titles in Phnom Penh.
Flag-bearer and Surakarta Games triple-gold winner Ariel Aligarbes leads the swimming team, while Jerold Mangliwan heads the athletics squad.
Quadruple gold medalist Sander Severino is also expected to shine anew in chess, which snatched 10 gold medals last year.
Favored for a golden performance is the men’s wheelchair basketball team which booked a direct spot to the Hangzhou Asian Para Games this October after a historic bronze medal effort in the Asia-Oceania tourney in Thailand last month.