Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino is not diverting from his previous forecast that the Filipino athletes in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China would surpass their showing five years ago in Indonesia.
“Ganoon pa din. Our target remains the same,” said Tolentino on the eve of the formal opening ceremonies to this Asian Games that was pushed back one year because of the pandemic.
Five years ago, the Philippines fielded 272 athletes in 31 sports, and brought home four gold medals, two each in golf and one apiece in skateboarding and weightlifting, along with two silver and 15 bronze medals.
This time, the Philippines will bring in a total of 395 athletes to this capital of Zhejiang province and will vie in 40 sports.
Overall, an Asian Games record number of 12,417 athletes from 45 countries will dispute a total of 481 gold medals in 40 sports all the way until Oct. 8.
“Mininum of four golds. Okay na ‘yun,” said Tolentino as members of Team Philippines who are already here prepared for the opening ceremony at the Hangzhou Olympic Centre Stadium on Saturday evening.
Skateboarder Margielyn Didal, a gold medalist in the 2018 Asian Games, and pole vaulter EJ Obiena, the Asian record-holder and now ranked No. 2 in the world, will carry the flag for the Philippines in the opening rites.
In 2018, all four golds for the Philippines were delivered by female athletes, including those in individual and team golf, led by Fil-Japanese Yuka Saso, and weightlifting courtesy of 2021 Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.
Tolentino said the male athletes are expected to deliver this time.
“Baka bumawi ang mga lalaki natin. We have EJ Obiena, Eumir Marcial in boxing, sa golf meron tayong magaling (Clyde Mondilla) and those in Esports,” said the Philippine cycling chief and mayor of Tagaytay City.
Meantime, the host city is ready and excited to put together an opening rites that it said will wow the world.
Top officials of the Hangzhou Games boasted that the opening rites will be a gala event.
Whether the weather will cooperate or not the show, they said, will go on as scheduled, saying breathtaking projections will depict the city’s past and present on the floor and background screens apart from showcasing a number of historical and cultural attractions.
Also worth waiting for are the glass-free 3D animations of athletic action and the unique way of lighting of the cauldron by a virtual torchbearer.
The ceremony from the welcome show, traditional parade of delegations, protocols and the main artistic performance will last for about 115 minutes.
They will be wearing a Barong Tagalog designed by world-class Filipino icon Rodolfo “Puey” Quinones.