Asian Games

Gold bets Hidilyn Diaz, EJ Obiena spearhead PH crew for Asian Games

Delfin Dioquino

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Gold bets Hidilyn Diaz, EJ Obiena spearhead PH crew for Asian Games

CROWNED QUEEN. Hidilyn Diaz makes history as the first Filipino to win an Olympic gold medal.

Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz eyes a second straight title, while pole vaulter EJ Obiena looks to add an Asian Games crown to his fast-growing collection as they lead 396 Filipino athletes

MANILA, Philippines – Weightlifting star Hidilyn Diaz and pole vault ace EJ Obiena banner the list of athletes the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) submitted for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China this September.

One of the Philippines’ four gold medalists in the 2018 edition, Diaz eyes a second straight Asiad title as she leads a formidable weightlifting team also featuring fellow Olympian Elreen Ando and Asian champion Vanessa Sarno.

Diaz competes in the women’s 64kg, while Ando and Sarno – who are both coming off record-breaking performances in the Southeast Asian Games last May – see action in the women’s 59kg and 76kg, respectively.

Obiena, meanwhile, looks to add an Asian Games crown to his fast-growing collection that includes a silver and bronze in the World Athletics Championships and a pair of golds in the Asian Athletics Championships.

The first and only Asian to join the six-meter club, Obiena is a cinch for the men’s pole vault title.

Joining Obiena in the athletics team are Eric Cray (men’s 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay) and Robyn Brown (women’s 400m hurdles, 4x400m relay, and 4x400m mixed relay), who also took part in the recent world championships.

Skateboarder Margielyn Didal and golfer Lois Kaye Go return to the Asian Games with hopes of defending the golds they won four years ago in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Didal eyes back-to-back mints in the women’s street category, while Go aims to retain the women’s team title with Rianne Malixi and Princess Superal after winning it with Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan the last time.

Olympic medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam spearhead a lean and mean crew of nine boxers who are not just seeking to contribute to the Philippines’ medal cause but also secure their spots in the Paris Olympics.

The country will miss out on a couple of potential golds from Carlos Yulo as the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, set from September 30 to October 8 in Antwerp, Belgium, coincides with the Asian Games.

Yulo opted to see action in the world championships as it serves as a qualifier for the Paris Games.

Representing the Philippines in men’s artistic gymnastics instead are Juancho Miguel Besana, Ivan Cruz, Justine Ace de Leon, Jan Gwynn Timbang, and Jhon Romeo Santillan.

Emma Malabuyo, Lucia Gutierrez, Kursten Lopez, Ancilla Lucia Mari Manzano, and Samantha Macasu comprise the women’s artistic gymnastics squad.

Fresh from a historic appearance in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Filipinas kept their core intact, with Sarina Bolden, Hali Long, Sara Eggesvik, Tahnai Annis, and Olivia McDaniel spearheading their 22-woman squad.

The POC listed 396 athletes who will compete in 40 sports in the quadrennial showpiece that will run from September 23 to October 8.

Meeting the criteria set by the POC, 323 athletes are sponsored by the organization, while the remaining 73 are self-funded. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.