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Team Philippines targets 27 golds at ASEAN Para Games

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WHAT the country’s able athletes couldn’t do, their differently abled counterparts will try to accomplish.

The Philippines’ differently abled athletes leave today with an eye of easing the pain of a 24-gold debacle in the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) as they go for 27 gold medals or more in the 9th ASEAN Para Games slated Sept. 17-23 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Philippine chef de mission Ral Rosario, who left early yesterday to attend the delegation head meeting the same day, estimated the 164-member delegation could win a minimum of 27 gold medals, which will be three more than what the country snared in the SEAG just over a week back.

It will also be a mark improvement from the 16 golds the Filipinos win in the last Para Games edition in Singapore two years ago.

“The team is in high spirits, and if our estimation is correct, we have a strong chance of winning 27 golds, perhaps more,” said Rosario in Monday Night’s send-off at the Dads restaurant in Edsa, Mandaluyong City.

Philippine Sports commissioners Celia Kiram and Arnold Agustin were among the well-wishers of the team along with newly formed Phl Paralympics Committee president Mike Barredo and vice president Tom Carrasco.

Nikko Huelgas and Claire Adorna, who claimed a gold and a silver in SEAG triathlon, also attended the event to give the athletes inspirational messages.

The Filipino woodpushers are expected to spearhead the country’s campaign as they seek for nothing less than seven golds, one more than their six-gold haul in Singapore two years ago.

Chesser Minandro Ridor will be country’s flag-bearer after a four-gold harvest in the visually impaired two division, which is for partially blind participants.

Wheelchair-bound FIDE Master Sander Severino and Henry Lopez are also part of the team with hopes of sweeping the individual and team events of standard and rapid.

Paralympics veteran Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta of powerlifting and Josephine Medina of table tennis are also expected to strike gold.

Dumapong-Ancheta made history by becoming the country’s first medal winner in the Paralympics after she claimed a bronze in the 2000 Sydney Games while Medina bagged a bronze in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last year.

The country is fielding in athletes in athletics (nine), badminton (seven), boccia (three), chess (17), cycling (three), goal ball (six), powerlifting (five), table tennis (nine), swimming (10), tenpin bowling (15) and wheelchair basketball (12).

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