High hopes for Pinoy jins in the SEA Games



NAY PYI TAW – A strong performance and a golden triumph.

That was the forecast of poomsae coach John Pierre Sabido a day before the taekwondo competitions of the 27th Southeast Asian Games unfurl Wednesday at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium here.

Sabido, who skippered the gold medal-winning men’s team in the 2009 Laos SEA Games, said winning the gold medal isn’t far from reality, especially with his wards competing in the “best shape of their careers.”

The Filipinos are competing in only three of the five poomsae events – the men’s team, women’s team and men’s individual categories.

“The team is prepared and the players’ spirits are high,” said the 30-year-old Sabido. “The women’s team is shooting for a grand slam and the men’s team is capable of pulling a surprise following a strong performance in the World Cup last October in Bali, Indonesia.

“We will be fine. I am confident that we can surpass our previous performance which is one gold, one silver and one bronze (medal).”

With 16-year-old Rinna Babanto joining the comely duo of Janice Lagman and Rani Ortega, much is expected from the women’s team this year following back-to-back conquests in the previous editions of the biennial Games.

Sabido said the team may have failed to win a medal in the previous World Cup, but is ready, especially with Babanto proving she can fill the void left by Camille Alarilla, who left the team last year to focus on earning a degree in Law.

“She is younger, stronger than Camille,” Sabido said. “She is a tough girl who worked her way up just to get in this position. She is very disciplined and hungry to win.”

In the men’s side, Sabido said brothers Djustin and Raphael Mella as well as Vidal Marvin Gabriel are capable of winning. In fact, they clinched the silver medal in the previous World Cup, winning it over other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Indonesia.

Gabriel will also be competing in the men’s individual.

“It was Vietnam which won the gold medal,” Sabido added. “But it doesn’t matter. Our men’s team has improved tremendously and the boys are ready for the challenges that will come their way.”

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