MANILA, Philippines — All eyes will be on Hidilyn Diaz when she guns for her first gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games Monday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
Already the owner of a silver medal in the Olympics and a gold medal in the Asian Games, Diaz will try to add a SEA Games gold to her collection when she competes in the 55-kg division in front of her countrymen.
While Diaz remains the favorite, she is still expected to face a stiff challenge from Thailand’s Khambao Surodchana, Indonesia’s Juliana Klarissa, and Vietnam’s Nguyin Thi Thuy.
Weightlifting has already produced a bronze for the Philippines, with Diaz’s cousin, Mary Flor Diaz, reaching the podium in the women’s 45-kg division on Sunday.
John Ceniza, meanwhile, won silver in the men’s 55-kg category on the same day.
The women’s 49-kg and men’s 61-kg will also be contested Monday afternoon.
Other Filipino athletes are also looking to add to the gold rush, after Team Philippines came up with 23 golds in Day 1.
Among the gold medal hopefuls are the Filipino duathletes competing at the Subic Baywalk inside the Subic Freeport Zone. They will try to duplicate the success of their counterparts in triathlon, who produced identical 1-2 finishes in the men’s and women’s divisions on Sunday morning.
Triathlon chief Tom Carrasco is banking on Jerwyn Banatao and Joey delos Reyes to deliver golden performances.
“I’m pretty confident that either of them (Banato and Delos Reyes) winning the gold and silver in the men’s duathlon,” he said, while also expressing his belief in Monica Torres to win the women’s side.
Duathlon coach Marco Vilog said his charges trained hard for the past four months in the run-bike-run event around the New Clark City in Capas town, Tarlac.
“They practiced well and they’re inspired by the success of our triathletes,” said Vilog.
The men’s and women’s softball teams will begin their campaign at New Clark City, while the men’s and women’s 3×3 squads are looking to continue their perfect runs at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Philippine’s campaign in men’s volleyball begins in the evening against Cambodia, at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
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