MANILA, Philippines – After months of grueling preparation, the 29th Southeast Asian Games are set to formally open on Saturday, August 19 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Philippines is aiming to move a rank higher from 2015 SEA Games’ 5th place finish, and all athletes are more than ready to bring honor to the country.
Philippine chef de mission Cynthia Carrion shares she is expecting at least 50 gold medals this year – 21 more than the previous SEA Games in which the Philippines bagged a total of 29 golds.
Before the SEA Games’ opening ceremonies, Rappler has gathered 10 of the outstanding Filipino athletes who will try to enhance their legacies in the multi-sporting event.
Alora is this year’s SEA Games flag bearer. She represented the Philippines at the 2016 Summer Olympics after getting the silver medal at the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
At age 23, Colonia has managed to win back-to-back trophies in the clean and jerk at the 2015 World and 2016 Asian Championships. He also qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Alyssa Valdez (Volleyball)
Valdez is no stranger to the limelight as she is one of the most decorated volleyball players today including numerous MVP awards in local professional tournaments. She is also part of the national team and was the 2015 SEA Games flag bearer.
The veteran Sunang has topped the Southeast Asian Games 4 times, winning gold medals in long jump during the 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011 SEA Games. In 2015, Sunang bagged the bronze. Aside from her rich SEAG background, Sunang also competed in the 2005 World Championships and the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
After breaking his own national record 5 times in 2014 alone, Obiena is set to grab the gold in this year’s SEA Games after clinching the silver with a personal best in 2015. Now that he has erased his 5.55-meter record and established a new one at 5.61 meters in Germany last month, Obiena is hoping to prove he’s the best in all of Southeast Asia.
Martinez proved that being from a tropical country wouldn’t prevent him from becoming a renowned figure skater. The 20-year-old Martinez is the 2015 Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy champion and is a two-time Triglav Trophy champ. He is also the first skater from Southeast Asia to quality for the Olympics and was the only Filipino to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Suarez started competing in international tournaments in 2006. He won the silver medal in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon and bagged two gold medals in the 2009 and 2011 SEA Games. Suarez also qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics and is eager to get his hands on another gold medal as a light welterweight at this year’s SEA Games.
After spending 10 years in the Palarong Pambansa, Orella is making her debut in the Southeast Asian Games. Despite being a rookie, Orella has high hopes in bringing home a medal as she bagged at least 47 gold medals in her entire Palaro stint.
With his performance during the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup and Jones Cup, Standhardinger proved he can be one of the team’s go-to-guys. With an average of 16 points and 5.7 rebounds during the FIBA Asia Cup, Standhardinger is an important tool for Gilas Pilipinas in the SEA Games.
Chezka Centeno (Billiards)
Centeno stood tallest in an all-Filipino showdown in the 2015 SEA Games women’s 9-ball final, topping Rubilen Amit to win gold. The Zamboanga City standout is the highest rated Filipino cueist in the World Pool Billiard Association rankings as the number 5 rated player and has competed around the world.