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World champ gymnast, SEAG hurdles record holder and planet’s second-ranked junior netter lead bulk of PH athletes arriving in Hanoi


Alyssa Valdez leads the glamorous women’s volley team seeking to end a long medal drought.

Alyssa Valdez leads the glamorous women’s volley team seeking to end a long medal drought.

World champion gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo, hurdler Eric Shawn Cray and tennis phenom Alex Eala will banner the biggest batch of arrivals for Team Philippines in Hanoi on Tuesday with the opening of the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA) in the Vietnamese capital just around the corner.

The formidable trio will lead a large wave of athletes, coaches and officials from 10 sports where twin sprinters Kyla and Kayla Richardson, fencer Samantha Kyle Catantan and the glamorous women’s volleyball team are included.

“We are ready to receive our athletes and coaches and extend the assistance they need once they arrive here,’’ said Commissioner Ramon Fernandez of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

A total of 193 athletes, coaches and officials, including the members of the media, will set foot on the Vietnamese capital together with the PSC staff and the national team secretariat on hand to facilitate their arrival.

“They have to be free of distractions so they can focus on their respective competitions ahead,’’ added Fernandez, the country’s chef de mission to the Games.

Complete entourage

Yulo claimed two gold medals and five silvers, installing him as the Filipino with the most significant hoard of medals back in the 2019 SEA Games in Manila. Joining Yulo is Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya and therapist Junpei Konno.

The Filipino-American Cray defended his 400-meter hurdles title and set the SEAG record in the event in the past four editions of the biennial meet since 2013 Myanmar, while the 16-year-old Eala, debuting for the national team in the Games, is the No. 2 ranked junior player in the world.

Gold medal favorites Carlos Edriel Yulo (left) and Alex Eala (right) arrive in Vietnam headlining a big chunk of Filipino bets that will defend the overall SEA Games title. —Inquirer file photos

Gold medal favorites Carlos Edriel Yulo  and Alex Eala arrive in Vietnam headlining a big chunk of Filipino bets that will defend the overall SEA Games title. —Inquirer file photos

Alex Eala

Alyssa Valdez, team captain Aby Maraño and Jaja Santiago are the anchors of the PH women’s spikers who will be shooting to finish with at least a medal under the mentorship of Brazilian Jorge Edson Souza de Brito.

The national spikers are coming in fresh from a two-week camp in Brazil where they played a series of friendlies and jelled together as a team.

Multiple SEAG medalist Richard Gonzales and 2018 Youth Olympian Jann Mari Nayre of table tennis will be joining them as well as tennis players Jeson Patrombon, Francis Casey Alcantara, Treat Huey and wushu’s Agatha Wong, Daniel Parantac and Divine Wally.

Tracksters on Wednesday

Women’s volleyball and men’s volleyball have a total head count of 38 players and officials while gymnastics has 22 athletes and coaches.

Majority of the athletes and officials from badminton (19), bodybuilding (13), fencing (28), table tennis (17), tennis (12), athletics (8) and wushu (17) will likewise depart from Manila two days prior to the opening ceremony on Thursday along with the PSC medical team (6) and members of the media (12).

Athletes from rowing, chess, kurash, pencak silat, men’s 3×3 basketball, women’s basketball, golf and triathlon/duathlon arrived over the weekend after entries from kickboxing, handball, men’s and women’s football have settled in Hanoi.

The main bulk of track and field athletes and officials (50) will arrive on Wednesday, including pole vault Asian record holder Ernest John Obiena. Joining them are Philippine entries from esports (25), billiards (10), bowling (13), cycling (16), golf (2), jujitsu (9) and swimming (3). INQ

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