By WAYLON GALVEZ
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan – Filipino athletes led by reigning Asian champion Eric Shauwn Cray will vie for 17 gold medals in Day 2 of the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) at the Ashgabat Olympic Stadium here.
The Fil-Am Cray captured the gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles last July in the Asian Athletics Championship in Bhubaneswar, India. He will compete, however, in different events here.
First for Cray is the 60meter hurdles, an event he hopes to top to add to his medal collection this year that include gold in 400m hurdles and silver in 100m during the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The 28-year-old Cray is set to arrive Sunday afternoon in time for the event’s extravagant opening ceremony of this multi-sport quadrennial meet organized by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
He will also compete in the 60m run of the event’s centerpiece Tuesday.
Another former Asian champion gunning for a medal finish is long jump queen Marestella Torres-Sunang, who once ruled the Asian Athletics Championships back in 2009 in Guangdong, China.
Now 36 years old, Torres-Sunang said there is still much left in her tank to compete, and she’s hoping to have a podium finish after she bagged a bronze medal in the previous KL SEA Games.
“We’ll see, I’m hoping na maka-medal tayo dito. It’s a tough competition,” said Torres-Sunang, a mother of three-year-old son Elimar with husband shot putter Eliazar Sunang.
The national team will likewise aim for medals in taekwondo, jiu-jitsu, and in traditional wrestling, which gave the country its first bronze medal here courtesy of Alvin Lobreguito.
Aside from Cray and Torres-Sunang, Mervin Guarte and Marco Vilog will participate in the preliminary round of the 800m, with Guarte also set to compete as well in the 1500m preliminaries.
The finals of the 800m and 1500m are scheduled Wednesday. Also part of the national track and field team is Janry Ubas, who will aim for a podium finish in the long jump Tuesday.
Also taking center stage are Filipino taekwondo jins Jenar Torillos (54kg), Samuel Thomas Morrison (74kg), Karen Celis (46kg) and Levita Ronna Ilao (46kg) as they face separate foes.
The other taekwondo athletes that will take part in this AIMAG event in the following days Joaquin Mendoza Jr. (63kg), Kristopher Uy (87kg), Rhezia Aragon (53kg), Kristie Elaine Alora (73kg), Francis Aaron Agojo (58kg), Christian dela Cruz (80kg), Rheza Aragon (49kg), Arven Alcantara (68kg) and Pauline Louise Lopez (57kg).