Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman Richard “Dickie” Bachmann is not yet losing hope, saying that Filipino athletes can still deliver despite their slow start in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
Bachmann said he is counting on athletes like EJ Obiena, Alex Eala, Hidilyn Diaz, and the national boxers to come up with a strong performance and jack up the medal tally of Team Philippines.
So far, the Philippines officially has one silver courtesy of Sanda fighter Arnel Mandal and four bronze medals courtesy of Patrick King Perez of taekwondo, and wushu bets Jones Inso, Gideon Fred Padua, and Clemente Tabugara Jr.
They, however, suffered disappointment after prized athletes Kayla Sanchez, Margielyn Didal, and Irish Magno failed to deliver.
Sanchez, a two-time Olympic medalist for Canada, has yet to win a single medal entering the last two days of the swimming competition, while Didal was dethroned in the women’s street event of the skateboarding competition after suffering a nagging ankle injury.
Magno, a Tokyo Olympian, also fell by the wayside as she bowed to Nigina Ukmatova of Uzbekistan in the Round of 16 of the women’s 54-kilogram event.
Still, Bachmann remains hopeful.
“I’m still hoping,” Bachmann said, adding that they can still surpass their previous achievement of four gold medals in the previous Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.
“I’m still confident that we will beat last year’s medal of four golds. I was with (boxing chairman) Ricky Vargas last night and he told me that they can get at least two medals. I’m looking at EJ Obiena, I’m looking at Alex Eala, and other athletes who can pull off a surprise.”
Obiena, the second-best pole vaulter in the world, is the country’s brightest hope as he is holding the Asian record of 6.0 meters.
Eala is also expected to deliver after breezing through the semifinals of the women’s singles event. She posted stunning victories over Sarah Ibrahim Khan of Pakistan and Rutuja Bonsale in the preliminaries, and Kyoka Okamura of Japan in the quarterfinals, to be assured of a podium finish.
Bachmann, however, made special mention of Diaz and the vaunted weightlifting team featuring rising stars Vanessa Sarno, Rosegie Ramos, and Elreen Ando.
“You still have your weightlifting. Hopefully, they can add,” said Bachmann, who has been busy visiting the athletes and watching their games together with PSC executive director Paulo Tatad.
“What we’re doing now is going around, watching a full game, be it no medal or medal chances. We’re here to show support.”