Athletes from 14 sports led by the highly-touted athletics, boxing and billiards teams have already left for Singapore on Wednesday for the 2015 Southeast Asian Games (SEAG), which will formally unfold on Friday at the state-of-the-art, 55,000-seater Singapore National Stadium.
Former Asian champion Marestella Torres bannered the track and field squad along with defending champions Henry Dagmil, Archand Christian Bagsit, Jesson Ramil Cid, Edgardo Alejan Jr. and Christopher Ulboc.
The athletics team was the most decorated squad in the 2013 edition in Myanmar, winning six gold medals. But the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association headed by former Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Philip Ella Juico vowed to produce at least eight gold medals this time based on impressive showing of the Filipino tracksters in recent international competitions.
“We are confident that we can deliver at least eight golds, we have the number to support that. Our athletes are motivated and we’re really optimistic of our chances this time,” stressed Juico.
The boxing team, a regular medal producer in the biennial meet, has veteran campaigners Ian Clark Bautista, Mario Fernandez, Rogen Ladon, Wilfredo Lopez, Eumir Marcial as well as Women’s Championship gold medalist Josie Gabuco, Irish Magno, Riza Pasuit and Nesthy Petecio.
Also expected to get some spotlight is the start-studded billiards and snooker team with legendary cue master Efren “Bata” Reyes, former world champion Dennis Orcolllo, current world No. 1 Carlo Biado, Asian Games silver medalist Warren Kiamco, junior world championship veteran Jeffrey Roda, and former world women’s champion Rubilen Amit leading the charge.
The other athletes included in the second batch were from tennis, diving, swimming, judo, petanque, rugby, sepak takraw, shooting, wushu, triathlon and softball.
Flag bearer Alyssa Valdez joins the volleyball and shooting teams in the third batch scheduled to depart on Thursday.
The other members of the women’s volleyball are Abygail Marano, Rachel Anne Daquis, Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Alyja Daphne Santiago, Bea De Leon, Julia Melissa Morado, Grethcel Soltones, Rhea Dimaculangan, Denden Lazaro, Maika Ortiz, team captain Jovelyn Gonzaga, reserve/assistant coach Aiza Maizo with head coach Roger Gorayeb while the men’s team is composed of Peter Den Mar Torres, Marck Jesus Espejo, Joshua Villanueva, Timothy Santo Tomas, Esmilzo Polvoroza, Sandy Montero, Andre Pareja, Ysrael Marasigan, Rex Intal, Kheeno Franco, John Vic De Guzman and Edward Camposano.
There are 472 athletes and 136 officials from 35 sports that will be vying for medals, hoping to surpass the country’s seventh place finish in the 2013 Myanmar Games.