ANTIQUE, Philippines – The best among the best student athletes in the country will soon be known as the 60th Palarong Pambansa kicks off on Sunday, April 23, in various venues in Antique.
For 7 days, more than 12,000 elementary and secondary student-athletes representing 18 regions will be vying for 376 gold medals, 376 silver medals, and 487 bronze medals that will be up for grabs from 21 regular sporting events.
This will be the culmination of all the hard work the student athletes have put in – especially balancing academics with year-round training and competition – for the honor of representing their region in what is considered as the biggest youth sports competition organized by the Department of Education (DepEd).
For the first time, billiards, futsal, wrestling, and wushu will be contested as regular sporting events after having been demonstration sports for a couple of years. This means that medals won in these events will now be counted in the overall medal tally.
The rest of the sporting events to be contested in the secondary division are archery, arnis, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, chess, football, gymnastics, sepak takraw, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, and volleyball.
The same events will be contested in the elementary division except for archery and boxing.
This year, 3 other sports are being introduced as demonstration events – dancesports, pencak silat, and aero gymnastics. Medals won in these events will not be counted in the overall medal tally.
Competition for most of the sporting events will kick off Monday, April 24, although gymnastics and football have already started their eliminations even before the opening ceremonies, which will be graced by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Who will bag the most medals?
Photo by Leanne Jazul/ Rappler
The National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA) is once again the favorite to run away with the overall title. But this year, they are expected to be heavily challenged by perennial 3rd placer Western Visayas Athletic Association (WVRAA) (Region VI), which is enjoying the "homecourt" advantage as this year's host.
Last year, WVRAA placed 3rd with a medal haul of 35 golds, 35 silvers, and 39 bronze medals. They trailed overall champion NCRAA which finished with 104-57-48 and second placer Southern Tagalog Calabarzon Athletic Association (STCAA) (Region IV-A) which had a medal tally of 40-43-59.
Completing the top 5 in last year's edition of the annual multi-sporting event were Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (CVRAA) (Region VII) at 4th place with 29-31-29 and 5th placer Northern Mindanao Regional Athletic Association (NMRAA) (Region X) with 25-34-36.
The Palarong Pambansa will also be having events for differently-abled athletes such as those with intellectual disability, the visually impaired, and the orthopedically handicapped or amputees.
These events have always been part of the multi-sporting competition because the DepEd believes this is one way of integrating them into the community and also a means of enlightening others about the capabilities of differently-abled athletes.