Despite a sluggish start for Filipino athletes at the 19th Asian Games, Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Richard “Dickie” Bachmann remains steadfast in his optimism, believing that the team is capable of a strong turnaround.
In a candid conversation with Filipino sportswriters, Bachmann expressed his confidence in athletes like EJ Obiena, Hidilyn Diaz, and the national boxers, anticipating a surge in performance that will elevate Team Philippines’ medal tally.
As of September 28, the Philippines has secured one silver and five bronzes, courtesy of Arnel Mandal (silver, wushu men’s 56kg), Patrick King Perez in taekwondo, and wushu contenders Jones Inso, Gideon Fred Padua, and Clemente Tabugara Jr., and Alex Eala (women’s tennis singles)
However, there were moments of disappointment as standout athletes Kayla Sanchez, Margielyn Didal, and Irish Magno faced setbacks.
Sanchez, a two-time Olympic medalist for Canada, has yet to secure a medal as the swimming competition enters its final days. Didal, the reigning champion in the women’s street event of skateboarding, faced a setback due to a lingering ankle injury.
Tokyo Olympian Magno also encountered a tough match, bowing out to Nigina Ukmatova of Uzbekistan in the Round of 16 of the women’s 54-kilogram event.
Nevertheless, Bachmann remains resolute in his belief that the team can excel.
’m still hoping,” Bachmann affirmed, setting his sights on surpassing the previous achievement of four gold medals from the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.
“I’m still confident that we will exceed last year’s medal tally of four golds. I spoke with (boxing chairman) Ricky Vargas last night and he assured me they can secure at least two medals. I have my eyes on EJ Obiena and Alex Eala, along with other athletes who may spring a surprise.”
Eala’s mixed doubles pair with Francis Casey Alcantara remains in contention, having reached the event’s semifinals.
Obiena, the world’s second-best pole vaulter, stands as a beacon of hope, holding the Asian record at an impressive 6.0 meters.
Eala, too, is poised for success after breezing through the semifinals of the women’s singles event, notching significant victories along the way.
Wushu fighter Arnel Mandal provided an unexpected silver lining with his standout performance in the men’s 56-kilogram sanda event on Thursday.
Bachmann, however, underscored the importance of Diaz and the formidable weightlifting team, featuring rising stars Vanessa Sarno, Rosegie Ramos, and Elreen Ando.
“You still have your weightlifting. Hopefully, they can add,” Bachmann emphasized, noting his active involvement in visiting athletes and watching their competitions alongside PSC executive director Paulo Tatad.
We’re here to show support, whether it’s a medal chance or not. What matters is we’re giving our all.”