AFTER one disappointing solitary gold medal on their home turf in the 30th Southeast Asian Games three years ago, Filipino archers aim to do better in the 31st Vietnam SEA Games with a “lean and mean” team composed of veterans and young and promising talents.
“Gusto namin bumawi. They (the archers) are eager to win. I cannot say the number of medals but we want to win more,” said World Archery Philippines secretary general Rosendo “Dondon Sombrio of the Filipino hawkeyes’ aspirations.
Of the 10 golds up grabs in the 30th SEA Games archery competitions held at the Clark Parade grounds in Angeles city, Pampanga, the local archers avoided a medal shutout, as the husband-and-wife duo of Paul and Rachelle Anne dela Cruz salvaged the compound mixed doubles gold medal.
“Our archers have put in a lot of hard work and sacrifices so we pray that these will all bear fruit in the Vietnam SEA Games by winning more medals,” Sombrio stressed.
The Dela Cruzes will be back for a second straight SEA Games outing to defend their title in the Vietnam SEA Games archery competitions set May 18 and 19 at the Hanoi Sports Training and Competition Center field.
Sombrio said they are sending a compact squad composed of Paul dela Cruz, Johan Olanio and Florante Matan in the men’s compound and Rachelle Anne Dela Cruz, Andrea Robles, Jennifer Chan and making up the distaff side.
Jason Feliciano, Jonathan Reaport and Girvin Garcia comprise the men’s recurve team while siblings Pia and Garbrielle Bidaure and Phoebe Nicole Amistoso are the campaigners in the women’s recurve events, according to the WAP official.
Sombrio said the team had been training in Marikina in February before flying to Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental to complete the final phase of its buildup to the Vietnam SEA Games, including the participation of the archers in Leg 2 of the 15th Philippine Archery Cup last weekend.
“We were not able to have any international tournaments except for the Olympic qualifiers in Paris, France last year so we staged two local tournaments for the tuneup meets of the archers,” he said.
Sombrio said part of the conditioning of the archers was competing on a makeshift field along Dumaguete Boulevard overlooking the Tanon Strait to see if they can cope with windy conditions in the event this should occur in Hanoi.
“We want to see if they have the stamina in windy conditions, and the heat should this happen in Hanoi,” he added.
Sombrio was keen on the country breaking its 17-year-old gold medal drought in the recurve event since the trio of Matan, Christian Cubilla and Mark Javier bagged the gold medal in the men’s team event in the 2005 Philippine Games.
He cited Feliciano, 20, and Bidaure sisters Pia, 24, and Gabrielle, 20, as being capable of finally hitting the bullseye and delivering the elusive recurve gold medal for the country.
“Our young archers in the recurve event like Jason and the Bidaure siblings are aggressive. They have no fear because they are still young. They have been performing quite well consistently,” Sombrio pointed out.
The national team was back in Manila Friday and was scheduled to leave for the Vietnamese capital on May 12, the same day the sportsfest formally opens at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi.