Patafa keeps aiming low; Valdez named flag bearer – rezal404

Alyssa Valdez is elated over being assigned to carry the flag for the opening ceremonies.  —PVL PHOTO

Alyssa Valdez is elated over being assigned to carry the flag for the opening ceremonies. —PVL PHOTO

Female athletes will be shouldering a lot of the country’s golden hopes in the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

In athletics, however, one man continues to draw most of the attention.

Pole vault star EJ Obiena remains one of the surest bets to bring home the gold in the biennial meet to be hosted by Cambodia.

All he has to do is show up and do his thing.

But apart from that, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) is maintaining a modest outlook for the event.

“We won five golds last time and it should be our starting [goal]. But our sure target is three golds,” said Patafa Secretary General Edward Kho.

The Europe-based Obiena, ranked No. 3 in the world, is the most recognizable name in the 52-strong Philippine track and field lineup that includes 2022 Vietnam SEA Games champions Eric Cray (400-meter hurdles), Clinton Bautista (110-m hurdles), Kayla Richardson (100- m) and William Morrison III (shot put).

“We’re hopeful that we can surpass that output. Our athletes prepared hard and sacrificed so much in their efforts to achieve this,” said Kho.

Marathoner Christine Hallasgo, who got a silver in Hanoi after claiming the gold in 2019 Manila, aims to strike the first win for the national tracksters in women’s marathon on May 6 at the scenic Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.

The opening ceremony will put yet another female athlete in the spotlight as volleyball star Alyssa Valdez was named flag bearer for the Philippine delegation.

“It’s such an honor to be the flag bearer for this year’s SEA Games. It’s a big responsibility, but I’m grateful for the trust given to me once again,” said Valdez.

The country’s parade contingent is already making history of sorts. Outside of sports officials, only female athletes will take part of the opening ceremonies.

“Alyssa best fits our goal of an almost all-female delegation in the opening ceremony,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino on Tuesday.

“She’s not only the face of Philippine volleyball, but Philippine sports as well,” he said.

Valdez will arrive in Phnom Penh on Friday, a day before the women’s national volleyball team checks in at the Cambodian capital.

Decathletes Janry Ubas and Aries Toledo take center stage on May 8 at the 60,000-seat Morodok Techo Stadium in Phnom Penh, the same day where Obiena will grab his poles in the finals scheduled late in the afternoon.

Sprinters Kristina Knott (women’s 200m), Richardson (women’s 200m), Umajesty Williams (men’s 200m), Melvin Calano (men’s javelin), Edwin Giron (men’s 1500), Joida Gagnoa (women’s 5000m) and the 4x400m mixed team relay are also expected to figure prominently in the afternoon finals on the same day. INQ

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