JAKARTA, Indonesia – At 85 years old, Kong Te Yang is the oldest athlete in the 2018 Asian Games. And there's one reason why he keeps on pushing – to promote the long-forgotten bridge card game in the Philippines.
"Well it was quite popular back at home in our country," recalled Yang. "That was the earlier days, but after that, the game was not so popular in our country anymore. So we’re trying to promote it again."
The veteran has been a member of the national team since 1967. In his 51 years of playing competitively, Yang was able to keep himself mentally sharp by joining bridge tournaments yearly until he underwent a hip surgery three years ago.
But Yang could not pass up the opportunity to join the 2018 Asian Games. Along with several other senior players, the bridge team is the oldest team in the Philippine delegation with an average age of 55 years old.
"When I joined them (national team) I was the junior. I was the youngest, and you know, all of a sudden, I become the oldest," joked the bridge athlete.
Yang admits that the sport is struggling to survive in the Philippines because of its absence in the grassroots level compared to other countries.
"In Hong Kong, they have a tournament and there is a group of young Chinese boys and girls aged 10 to 12. So many of them are joining this competition. It’s very nice to see them," Yang told Rappler.
The Phiippine Tournament Bridge Association, the national sports association (NSA) of the card game, has been active in promoting the sport in schools such as the University of the Philippines.
"Hopefully, in a few years time, we’ll be as popular, bridge will be as popular [as it is in] other countries, or at least around the region," said Yang. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.