HANGZHOU—Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Richard “Dickie” Bachmann is hopeful and confident that the country’s first gold medal in the 19th Asian Games would come sooner or later.
“I’m still hoping,” Bachmann told Filipino reporters covering the Asian Games that are into its fifth day since the opening ceremony last Saturday. “I’m confident that we can still surpass previous achievement of four gold medals in Jakarta in 2018.”
The Philippines won four gold medals—two in women’s golf and one each in weightlifting and skateboarding—with two silvers and 15 bronzes in the games’ 18th edition in Jakarta and Palembang five years ago.
Tops on Bachmann’s list is Ernest John “EJ” Obiena whose 6.0 meters in men’s pole vault stands as the Asian record. The world No. 2 cleared the height twice only weeks ahead of the games.
Bachmann also said boxing could deliver.
“I was with [boxing chairman] Ricky Vargas last night and he told me that they can get at least two medals,” he said.
Four boxers remain in contention including Tokyo Olympics silver medaslists Nesthy Petecio, who debuts Friday, and Carlo Paalam and bronze medalist Eumir Felix Marcial, John Marvin and Marjon Pianar.
Alex Eala was also on Bachmann’s list but the young tennis ace settled for a bronze medal after yielding to China’s Zheng Qinwen, 6-1, 7-6 (5), 6-3, on Thursday.
“I’m looking at EJ Obiena and other athletes who can pull off a surprise,” he said, adding Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo is on his list and the other weightlifters Vanessa Sarno, Rosegie Ramos and Elreen Ando.
“You still have your weightlifting. Hopefully, they can add,” said Bachmann, whose been making the rounds of the venues to boost the morale of Filipino athletes with his executive director Paulo Tatad.
“I try to move around as often as I can, say five to six venues a day,” said Bachmann, who’s into his first Asian Games as chairman of the government sports agency.
“What we’re doing now is going around, watching a full game, be it no medal or medal chances,” he said. “We’re here to show support.”
The Philippines has so far clinched one silver medal through wushu’s Arnel Mandal and five bronze medals courtesy of Eala, Patrick King Perez in taekwondo and Jones Inso, Gideon Fred Padua and Clemente Tabugara Jr. also in wushu.
Margielyn Didal didn’t defend her skateboarding gold medal and wound up last among eight finalists, while former Canadian swimmer and Olympic medalist Kayla Sanchez groped in the pool.