Eric Cray in this file photo.
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino tracksters declared readiness to take on the region’s best and brightest and contribute to Team Philippines’ quest in the 29th Southeast Asian Games.
A crack team of 38 athletes will carry the fight for the country in the centerpiece athletics competitions, with reigning Asian 400-m hurdles champ Eric Cray and Asian pole vault bronze medalist EJ Obiena leading the charge.
“I know I can win it so that’s the first thing. I just need to have a good day, not necessarily perfect, but a good day, with good conditions, good mindset. If everything falls into place and I execute all I need to, I think I can do it,” Obiena said during Tuesday’s send-off for the Philippines athletics team.
Obiena, who benefits from training in Italy, set a new Philippine mark of 5.61 meters in the build-up for the SEAG – a good 0.21m better than the best efforts of his potential rivals in Malaysia.
Along with Olympian Cray, Obiena is considered a strong bet in the athletics crew’s bid to surpass its five-gold, seven-silver, nine-bronze haul in the previous edition.
“I'm walking with a little more bounce, I'm a more confident now (than the previous SEAG). I know we prepared for this, the resources came in, most of it at least, training was done right, our boys and girls are physically and psychologically well prepared. The team spent time in Hong Kong and others trained abroad and did very well like EJ Obiena, who the third best in Asian pole-vault and many others” said athletics president Philip Ella Juico.
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He exhorted the tracksters to “enjoy the games and enjoy winning"
“I don’t want to put pressure on you, young men and women; that after so much time on the gym, it’s your obligation to get that (much) gold, that (much) silver, we’re not doing that.
“We’re not pressuring you. What I want you to do is enjoy the games, enjoy it to the point you enjoy it so much you want to win because you want to keep on winning,” he told the bets.
Juico was joined in the send-off by officials of team sponsors like Ayala Corporation, UCPB Gen, Cherrylume Corrugated Sheets, Soleus, L TimeStudio and Marriott Hotel Manila.