Filipino athletes shift focus on AIMAG

Barely three weeks since they fiercely fought in the Southeast Asian Games, Filipino athletes will again go into battle and make the country proud.

A total of 105 athletes from 17 sports will participate in the forthcoming 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on Sept. 16-27.

Makati City representative Monsour Del Rosario, who was designated chef de mission of the delegation, has set a target of surpassing the country’s medal collection of one gold and two bronze medals during the 2013 edition in Incheon, South Korea.

There will be 62 countries fighting for the gold medals at stake, so it’s not going to be easy,’’ said Del Rosario, who also sits as secretary general of the Philippine Taekwondo Association.

The bulk of the delegation will travel on a chartered Philippine Airlines flight from Manila to Ashgabat on Sept. 14.

Deputy chef de mission Raymund Lee Reyes has been appointed as Del Rosario’s sidekick in taking care of the athletes during the Games, which also features world-class athletes from powerhouse Australia and New Zealand.

Dancesport bets Cherry Clarice Parcon and Gerald Jamili captured the country’s lone gold in Incheon apart from copping a bronze. Cue master Rubilen Amit accounted for the other bronze that the Philippine brought home.

Parcon and Jamili will be back in Ashgabat as well as Amit while Grandmaster Eugene Torre, Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, cue artist Chezka Centeno could pull off surprises for the Philippine medal tally.

Our goal is to surpass our previous medal standing. It’s hard to predict beyond that,’’ said Reyes, also the secretary general of the Philippine Karatedo Federation.

Pinoy entries in taekwondo, kickboxing, jujitsu, muay and wrestling can also contribute to the medal haul that Del Rosario and Reyes are both aspiring for.

In combat sports, anything can happen. We Filipinos fight with heart and courage and I never doubt our ability to win a gold medal,’’ said Del Rosario.

The Philippines will compete for medals in 17 of the 21 sports to be played. There will be no Filipino entries in swimming, futsal, 3×3 basketball and equestrian.