11 Filipino super athletes to watch out for at the Asian Games 2023

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), spearheaded by Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, has sent off 396-strong Filipino athletes who will fight for the flag and country in the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

11 Filipino super athletes to watch out for at the Asian Games 2023
Let’s support our Filipino athletes at the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games on September 23 to October 8.

There’s still a couple of days before the much-awaited continental quadrennial meet starts. But this early, some Filipino athletes have already been heavily favored to win their respective sports or at least will bring home a plum.

1. Alex Eala, tennis

Rafael Nadal’s mentee currently sits at 191st place of the WTA world rankings and is keen to atone for her 2023 SEA Games bronze medal finish in this tournament.

2. Caloy Yulo, artistic gymnast

The 4’8” gymnast, 2023 SEA Games quadruple gold medalist and six-time world winner Carlos Yulo is expected to lord the individual all-around, floor exercise, vault, and parallel bars events.

3. EJ Obiena, pole vaulter

Newly crowned world number 2 pole vaulter EJ Obiena who has been breaking Asian records ever since is en route to bag another gold in the Asiad.

The Paris Olympics-bound Obiena will try to beat his own Asian record at 6.0m during the Asiad.

4. Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo, weightlifting queen

Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo is currently the Asian 58kg weightlifting queen. The lone Filipina Olympic gold medalist is set to bring home an Asian Games gold but it won’t be a walk in the park as her arch nemesis, Liao Qiuyun is all out to re-claim the throne.

5. Margielyn Didal, skateboarder

Coming from an 11-month-long layoff due to injury, Pinay skateboarder Margielyn Didal is now healthy and ready to defend her Asian Games title.

The 24-year-old Cebuana is also the country’s flag bearer along with Obiena at the Asian Games opening ceremony.

6-8. Eumir Marcial, Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio, boxing

Despite Filipino pugilists’ continuous slip in the professional boxing world, Philippines is still a mighty force to reckon with in the Asian Games.

The Philippine boxing team is bannered by middleweight Eumir Marcial, together with flyweight Carlo Paalam and women’s featherweight Nesthy Petecio.

The boxing trio will be all out reaching for gold as the Asian Games also serves as Paris Olympics qualifiers for the boxing event.

Rumors are also circulating that the former 8-division champion, Manny Pacquiao, expressed his desire to represent the country in the Olympics. But still unclear on which qualifying path he’ll take to get to the world’s pinnacle of sporting events.

9. Meggie Ochoa, 2023 Asian Jiu Jitsu champion

Meggie Ochoa sets his eyes on a golden finish in this competition. Despite winning the Asian Championship, her 2018 Asian Games third-place campaign still haunts the grappler; she has nothing in mind but to cop the gold this time.

10. The Filipinas lead by Sarina Bolden, women’s football team

Fresh from the FIFA Women’s World Cup a couple of months ago, the “Filipinas”, lead by Sarina Bolden are motivated to continue making history by trying to conquer the Asian turf.

The world ranked-44th Philippines however, faces Asian power house, ranked-20th South Korea in the prelims.

11. Gilas Pilipinas, men’s national basketball team

The Gilas Pilipinas, though surrounded by controversies, is still a tough nut to crack in Asia.

In spite of an “unwanted” lineup, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and interim coach, Tim Cone are still optimistic that the national cagers could still accomplish a podium finish in the continental tournament.

Gilas however, should be worried about Jordan in the prelims and a possible duel against Paris Olympic-bound Akatsuki Five of Japan in the succeeding rounds.

The men in blue will rely heavily on naturalized Filipino Justin Brownlee and immaculate leadership of PBA veteran June Mar Fajardo.

Best of luck to all Filipino athletes. Laban Pilipinas, Puso!

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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