The Philippines will be sending a strong 208 athletes from 26 sports with tae kwon do as one of the brightest hopes to deliver gold medals in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games scheduled on December 11 to 22 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.
Based on history, tae kwon do is the most consistent medal producer not only in SEA Games but also in some major international tournaments.
In 2011 SEA Games held in Indonesia, tae kwon do was the most bemedalled national sports association (NSA), winning four golds, three silvers and five bronzes.
The gold medals were delivered by John Paul Lizardo (men’s over 54-kilogram), Kirstie Elaine Alora (women’s over 73kg.), Maria Camille Manalo (women’s over 57kg.) and the trio of Rani Ann Ortega, Francesca Camille Alarilla and Carla Janice Lagman (women’s poomsae all-female team).
Alora will be back to defend her crown as well as Ortega, Lagman and new member Mikaela Calamba.
Joining them in the Myanmar Games are Francis Aaron Agojo (men’s under 54kg, Gerson Bautista (men’s under 68kg.), Samuel Thomas Morrison (men’s under 74kg.), Christian Al dela Cruz (men’s under 87kg.), Kristopher Robert Uy (men’s over 87kg.), Mary Anjelay Pelaez (women’s under 46kg.), Pauline Louise Lopez (women’s under 53kg.), Jade Zafra (women’s under 57kg.), Jane Rafaelle Narra (women’s under 67kg.), and Galilee Tinaya, Marvin Vidal Gabriel and Dustin Mella (men’s poomsae all-male team).
“We are really looking at tae kwon do as strong contenders [for gold medals]. They’ve been doing a great job in international tournament including the 2011 Indonesia SEA Games,” said Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Ricardo Garcia.
For the record, the Filipino jins won four bronzes in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, and two silvers and three bronzes in the 2006 edition held in Doha, Qatar.
In the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Mary Antoinette Rivero almost snapped the country’s medal drought after advancing to the semifinals of the women’s under 67kg. She defeated Vanina Sanchez of Argentina in the Round of 16 and Charmie Sobers of the Netherlands in the quarterfinals but bowed to Elisabet Mystakidou of Green in the semifinals and two-time Olympic gold medalist Hwang Kyung-Seon of South Korea in the battle-for-bronze match.
“Tae kwon do has a strong sports program that’s why it’s one of the sports which really brings honors to our country. It has a good leader in Mr. Sun Chong Hong, a good set of coaches and officials. It’s a good example of an NSA,” said former Senator Nikki Coseteng in an interview.
This year, the Filipino jins got medals in different international tournaments—two gold and two bronzes in the 2nd Junior Asian Poomsae Championships held in Jakarta, Indonesia last June; 12 golds, 14 silvers and 14 bronzes in the 2013 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Tae kwon do Championships held in Yangon, Myanmar last May; and one gold in the 2013 US Open Taekwondo Championships held in Las Vegas, Nevada last February.
In 2012, they earned two golds in the 2012 World Taekwondo Hanmadang Championships in Seoul, South Korea; one gold, one silver and three bronzes in the 7th World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in Tunja, Colombia; five golds, seven silvers and 14 bronzes in the 7th Korea Open International Taekwondo Championships in Gyeongju, South Korea; and two golds and two bronzes in the 16th Asean University Games in Vientiane, Laos.
“It only shows that there’s a program. They have good results,” added Coseteng.