By Jean Malanum

OPTIMISTIC. Team Philippines head of delegation Walter Torres (center) with Deputy Chef de Mission Irene Soriano (right) and Philippine Paralympic Committee President Michael Barredo during the 12th ASEAN Para Games 1st Chef de Mission meeting in Cambodia on March 30, 2023. Torres is optimistic that the national para-athletes will perform well in the June 3-9 tournament. (Contributed photo)

MANILA – The Philippines will send a 259-member delegation, including 174 athletes, to the 12th ASEAN Para Games scheduled on June 3-9 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner and Team Philippines Chef de Mission (CDM) Walter Torres will submit the names of athletes, coaches, team officials and administrative staff when he attends the Delegation Registration Meeting on May 28.

The Filipino para-athletes will compete in 13 sports: athletics (23), badminton (9), boccia (8), chess (22), cerebral palsy football (10), goalball (12), judo (4), powerlifting (11), sitting volleyball (14), swimming (12), table tennis (21), wheelchair basketball (23), and demonstration sport, esports (5).

“We would like to do better than last time. Our team will definitely give their best because everybody wants to win,” Torres said on Thursday.

He served as CDM of the contingent which hauled 28 gold, 30 silver and 46 bronze medals and finished fifth among 11 countries in the 2022 edition held in Surakarta, Indonesia.

“Pray for the success of our athletes in their pursuit of excellence. Excellence doesn’t just mean the number of medals won, it can also mean the development of one’s personality, character and leadership so that he or she becomes a positive influence on others,” said Torres, a former national fencer.

The PSC, in coordination with the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC), will host a send-off party for the Cambodia-bound delegates on May 21 at the Multi-Purpose Arena in Pasig City.

Meanwhile, 2018 Asian Games gold medalist Ernie Gawilan and others will be leaving for Singapore on April 25 to join the World Para Swimming (WPS) World Series slated from April 26 to May 2.

Also competing are 2022 ASEAN Para Games triple gold medalists Ariel Alegarbes and Angel Otom, Gary Bejino, Roland Sabido, Arnel Aba, Edwin Villanueva, Muhaimin Ulag and Marco Tinamisan.

The tournament, a qualifier for the World Championships which will take place in Manchester, United Kingdom from July 26 to Aug. 7, is part of the national swimmers’ preparation for the Asian Para Games to be in Hangzhou, China from Sept. 23 to Oct. 8 this year.

The nine swimmers together with Adrian Azul, Beariza Roble and Claire Calizo will be going to Cambodia, too. (PNA)