WITH new faces coming in and many others retiring within the region, the medal chances of the Philippines in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur looks bright.
Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Philip Ella Juico said this as he assessed the country’ chances in the coming biennial meet, which is set to begin on Aug. 19 in Kuala Lumpur.
A target of 10 to 11 gold medals is now possible for the Philippines now that old rivals from Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam are fading away and retiring, according to Juico.
Because of this, improvements in the medal standings of decathletes Jesson Cid and Janry Ubas, and women’s long jumper Marestella Torres-Sunang can happen.
In the 2015 edition of the biennial meet, Cid and Ubas took the silver and bronze behind Vietnamese gold medal winner Nguyen Van Hue.
On the other hand, Torres could have a better chance against Indonesian women’s long-distance gold medallist Natalia Londa if Vietnamese silver medallist Bui Thi Thu Thao pushes through with her plans to retire.
So far, SEA Games double gold medallist Eric Cray is on top of the list of athletes who can make it back to the national squad.
Cray, with Kayla Richardson and Caleb Stuart, led the country’s campaign the last time around.
The United States-based Cray and Richardson won the men’s and women’s 100 meters, respectively, and Stuart took the men’s hammer throw gold.
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena is also expected to deliver, alongside steeplechaser Christopher Ulboc, 800-meter specialists Marco Vilog and Mervin Guarte.
Torres-Sunang is also eyeing a comeback in the SEA Games with relay specialists, Edgardo Alejan and Aris Toledo.
Other candidates include steeplechaser Jessica Barnard, triple jumper Harry Diones, Patrick Unso and Trenton Beram.
Juico added that they are also keen on relay specialists Jon Caido, Ryan Bigyan and Raymund Alfero.