By Jean Malanum

CHAMPION. Filipino Jackielou Escarpe (top row, 2nd from left) wins the gold medal in the men’s 73kg category after beating Thailand’s Apicha Boonrangsee (top row, left) in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam on May 13, 2022. Escarpe will lead the Philippine campaign in the Asian Senior Kurash Championship in Hangzhou, China on April 28-29, 2023. (Contributed photo)

MANILA – Nine athletes bannered by 2021 Vietnam Southeast Asian (SEA) Games champion Jackielou Escarpe (men’s -73kg) arrived in Hangzhou, China Tuesday night to join the 12th Asian Senior Kurash Championship.

Silver medalists Helen Alcopen (women’s -48kg) and Charmea Quelino (women’s -52kg); and bronze medalists Renzo Miguel Cazeñas (men’s -81kg) and George Angelo Baclagan (men’s -90kg) are also in the line-up together with Nick Gabriel Ligero (men’s -60kg), Ryan Christian Benavidez (men’s -66kg), Rael Geoffrey Abujos (men’s +100kg), and Mylene Matias (women’s -52kg).

Quelino will compete in the -57kg category, Cazeñas in the -90kg category, and Baclagan in the -100kg category.

Kurash Sports Federation of the Philippines (KSFP) president Rolan Llamas will head the delegation, which also includes coaches Lloyd Dennis Catipon and Jenielou Mosqueda, referees Al Rolan Llamas and Estie Gay Liwanen, and team manager Rommel Miranda.

Al Rolan Llamas, the son of the KSFP president, also won a bronze medal (men’s 60kg) in Vietnam, just like Liwanen (women’s 57kg).

There will be a seminar for coaches and referees on April 26-27 and the Kurash Confederation of Asia-Oceania (KCAO) Congress before the competition starts on April 28.

“This trip is important not only as an exposure to our athletes as they prepare for the Asian Games and AIMAG, but also to the coaches and referees who will be attending the seminars,” Rolan Llamas said in an interview on Wednesday.

Llamas was a former SEA Games judo champion and had served as head coach of the national judo team for eight years.

The Asian Championship will be held at the Xiaoshan Linpu Gymnasium, which will be the training and competition venue for kurash, judo, and jiu-jitsu during the Asian Games scheduled from Sept. 23 to Oct. 8.

Aside from the Asian Games, the national kurash team will also join the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games to be hosted by Thailand from Nov. 17 to 26.

Kurash, which means grappling, is a traditional Uzbek wrestling sport popular in Central Asia. (PNA)