MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines' differently abled athletes will leave for Malaysia on Wednesday, hoping to ease the pain of the nation's 24-gold debacle in the 29th Southeast Asian Games.
The athletes are gunning for at least 27 gold medals in the 9th ASEAN Para Games, slated for September 17 to 23 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Philippine chef de mission Ral Rosario, who left early Tuesday for Malaysia to attend the delegation meeting, believes that the 164-member delegation can win a minimum of 27 golds – more than what the country snared in the recent SEA Games.
It will also be a huge improvement from the 16 golds that the Filipinos won in the 8th Para Games in Singapore two years ago.
"The team is in high spirits, and if our estimation is correct, we have a strong chance of winning 27 golds, perhaps more," said Rosario during the send-off for the team on Monday night.
Philippine Sports commissioners Celia Kiram and Arnold Agustin were among the well-wishers of the team along with newly formed Philippine Paralympics Committee president Mike Barredo and vice president Tom Carrasco.
Nikko Huelgas and Claire Adorna, who claimed a gold and a silver in SEA Games triathlon, also attended the event to give the athletes inspirational messages.
The Filipino chessers are expected to lead the country's campaign, as they seek nothing less than seven golds – one more than their haul in Singapore in 2015.
Minandro Ridor, who had a four-gold haul in the visually impaired 2 division for partially blind participants, will be the country's flag-bearer.
Wheelchair-bound FIDE Master Sander Severino and Henry Lopez are also part of the team with hopes of sweeping the individual and team events of standard and rapid.
Paralympics veteran Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta of powerlifting and Josephine Medina of table tennis are also expected to strike gold.
Dumapong-Ancheta made history by becoming the country’s first medal winner in the Paralympics after she claimed a bronze in the 2000 Sydney Games, while Medina bagged a bronze in Rio de Janerio, Brazil last year.
The country is fielding in athletes in athletics (nine), badminton (seven), boccia (three), chess (17), cycling (three), goal ball (six), powerlifting (five), table tennis (nine), swimming (10), tenpin bowling (15) and wheelchair basketball (12).
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