MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino judokas can deliver gold medals when they compete in the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam later this year, assured the president of the country's judo federation.
Three Filipino judokas -- Shugen Nakano (66kg), Kiyomi Watanabe (63kg) and Mariya Takahashi (70kg) -- won golds at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games held in the Philippines.
Dave Carter, president of the Philippine Judo Federation, is confident that they can match or even exceed that output in Hanoi.
"I believe kaya natin i-equal. Baka mamaya, gawin pa natin na apat 'yung gold this time," he said recently.
Apart from three gold medals, the Philippines also won a silver and nine bronzes in judo in 2019.
Thailand dominated the event, with nine gold medals, followed by Indonesia with four mints.
But Carter believes the COVID-19 pandemic has somewhat leveled the playing field among the judokas in the Southeast Asian region.
"Tayo nga ay apektado ng pandemic. (Pero) hindi lang naman tayo, miski po 'yung mga kalaban natin, apektado din sila. Alam din natin, nakakarinig po tayo ng balita mula sa side nila, na 'yun pong ibang mga matataas, medyo malalakas na bansa sa atin, dito sa Southeast Asia, sila po 'yung medyo really hard-stricken ngayon ng pandemic," he said.
"And 'yun pong isang alam natin na laging nag-No. 1 na bansa, medyo papataas po 'yung cases nila ngayon."
The SEA Games are scheduled from November 21 to December 3, although organizers in Vietnam are reportedly discussing a possible postponement of the biennial event.