How ‘Hidilyn effect’ changes Filipino athletes’ mindset heading to 2022 AIMAG

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Sep 22 2021 11:33 AM

National team chef de mission Ricky Lim is optimistic that the country can surpass its performance in the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, when the 6th AIMAG is held in Bangkok and Pattaya, Thailand in March 2022.

“I believe we can surpass the two gold we won in Turkmenistan with the team we are bringing to Thailand,” Lim said of the two gold, 14 silver and 14 bronze medals that the Filipinos bagged in the Turkmenistan capital 4 years ago.

Jiu-jitsu athletes Meggie Ochoa and Annie Ramirez took home a mint each to banner the national team of 121 athletes in 17 sports that wound up 19th in the overall medal standings in the meet that drew more than 4,000 athletes from an expanded roster of 63 countries from Asia and Oceania. 

It was the country’s best stint since the inaugural edition of the AIMAG in Thai capital in 2005, and was held every other year until 2009 before its schedule was changed by the organizing Olympic Council of Asia to every four years starting with the 2013 edition held in Incheon, South Korea.

Lim made the comments on Saturday, 3 days after attending the first general meeting online of the chef de missions, whose countries will see action in the AIMAG that was rescheduled to March 10 to 20, 2022 in the Thai capital and the tourist city of Pattaya due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Philippine Olympic Committee President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said that only 160 athletes in 21 sports will attend the 6th AIMAG, with a premium to be placed on athletes and sports who can bring home medals, according to Lim.

“The mindset of Cong Bambol and the POC leadership is that we will only send the best of our athletes who have a chance of winning medals in the AIMAG in the wake of our very successful stint in the last Tokyo Olympic Games,” Lim said.

“Since Hidilyn Diaz won our first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, the general thinking is we compete abroad to win medals and not just for the experience. I am even thinking of sending only karatekas who have a strong chance of winning in the AIMAG,” added Lim, president of Karate Pilipinas Sports Foundation Inc., the national governing body of the sport.

He added that the gold in the coming Asian Indoor and Martial Games was likely to come again from combat sports, which will be held in the seaport city of Pattaya, although he declined to disclose what these were. 

Filipinos athletes will compete martial art disciplines of jiu-jitsu, karate, kickboxing, kurash, muay thai, taekwondo, sambo and wrestling and will all be conducted in the province of Chonburi together with indoor athletics, billiards, chess, dancesport, esports and indoor rowing. 

The country will also vie in disciplines of short course swimming, 3x3 basketball, shooting, skateboarding, sepak takraw, bowling, pencak silat in Bangkok.

Lim said Tolentino has already briefed the national sports associations that will be fielding athletes to the competition about the requirement, and left it to them when and where they could resume actual training. 

Lim said that, based on the meeting last Wednesday, “the Thai AIMAG organizers will follow the template for the health and safety protocols used in the Tokyo Olympic Games unless the pandemic conditions improve.”

“This includes having daily antigen or saliva tests for the COVID-19 virus and hotel to training and competition venue and back for the athletes. As much as possible, the AIMAG will all be held in a bubble,” Lim said.

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