MANILA – The Philippines' differently abled athletes have arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia hoping to win at least 27 gold medals in the 9th ASEAN Para Games slated for September 17 to 23.
Expected to spearhead the country's campaign are chess player Mindandro Ridor, the country's flag-bearer who emerged the Filipinos' best performing athlete with a four-gold haul in the last Para Games edition in Singapore two years ago, table tennis player Josephine Medina and powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta – all of whom eye nothing less than gold.
Chef de mission Ral Rosario, who flew in as early as Tuesday to attend the delegation head meeting, believes they have a chance to win 27 golds, which would eclipse the disastrous 24-gold performance in the 29th Southeast Asian Games also held in Malaysia two weeks ago.
Ridor is seeking to sweep the visually impaired 2 division (partial blindness) anew while wheelchair-bound FIDE Master Sander Severino and Henry Lopez try to add some more mints as they try to match their target of at least seven golds in chess alone.
Medina, 47, for her part, is aiming to follow up her bronze medal finish in last year's Paralympics in Rio de Janerio, Brazil by coming up with a golden performance here and add to her six-gold collection in this biennial event.
"It will not be easy but I can assure our country I will give it my best to win the gold," said Medina, whose best effort in this stage was when she harvested four golds in the 2008 edition in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
For Dumapong, who delivered the country's very first medal in the Paralympics with a bronze in Sydney, Australia 17 years ago, said she hopes to maximize her last few opportunities before she retires a few years from now.
"I was told by my coaches that I can still compete at this high level for four or five more years," said the 43-year-old Dumapong, who had amassed four ASEAN golds and two silvers and a couple of silvers in the Asian Para Games.
The Philippine delegation were all accounted for after flying here from Manila in two batches — the bulk in the morning and the rest in the afternoon.
The number of athletes the Philippines is fielding in per sports are as follows: 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).
The Filipinos have fielded in the sixth fewest athletes with 98 behind host Malaysia (331), powerhouse Thailand (291), Indonesia (192), Vietnam (150) and Myanmar (120).
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