By MARS G. ALISON
Hostilities in the 5th National MILO Little Olympics 2013 began today with Team Visayas using the twin calamities – the 7.2 magnitude-earthquake and super typhoon Yolanda — motivate it in its campaign to reclaim the overall title from the National Capital Region (NCR).
Playing venues are be scattered within Cebu City with athletics, chess, football, gymnastics, scrabble, swimming and table tennis held at the Cebu City Sports Center; volleyball at the Aznar Coliseum and the University of Southern Philippines Foundation; basketball at the New Cebu Coliseum, taekwondo at the Cebu Eastern College; lawn tennis at the Alta Vista Golf and Country Club and Baseline Recreation Center; and badminton at the Metro Sports.
The games start as early as 6 a.m. and end by 5 p.m.
Ricky Ballesteros, Visayas delegation head, said that surviving the catastrophes are added motivations for his wards especially for athletes coming from Catmon of northern Cebu, Bohol and Iloilo, the places directly affected by both earthquake and Yolanda.
“After the catastrophes, we immediately called the athletes in those areas to check if they were okay and if they need assistance, thankfully they were all accounted for,” Ballesteros said.
Team Visayas is keen on taking back the overall trophy it had held for the first three years of thos annual event from 2009 to 2011.
Visayas lost the overall trophy to NCR last year by mere 39 points after tallying 575 to NCR’s 614 points.
Ballesteros said it will not be an easy task but he will once again be banking on the ballgames to pull Team Visayas through.
While Team Visayas has found positivity in having survived the catastrophes and is using it to boost its spirit, the other competing teams—NCR, Luzon and indanao, have also drawn inspiration from them.
Luzon delegation head Tess Bernardino said it is very inspiring to see Team Visayas athletes coming from areas directly affected by the earthquake and the super typhoon such as Catmon of northern Cebu, Bohol and Iloilo, still seeing action despite what they have just experienced.
NCR delegation head Robert Milton Calo, for his part, said that he is wary of the high level of confidence exuded by the Team Visayas and it is this aspect that they will not take for granted.
This annual multi-sport event was initially scheduled for October but organizers had to cancel it for safety reasons after aftershocks continued to be felt in the wake of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
It is for this reason that Calo said they had to change their line-up because their top athletes are now already playing for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) which have already started.
He said that they are now missing the services of the University of the East, San Beda and Far Eastern University.
“Whatever advantage we had in our line-up last October is gone because we now have to field second stringers. If it had pushed through then, I could say that we are 90 percent sure of defending the overall title but now, the field has been levelled,” Calo said.
Calo, however, expressed full confidence on the athletes that he has now.
“They told me they will not concede the title easily, sabi nila ilalaban namin ito,” Calo said.
Calo pointed out that Luzon may emerge as a dark horse in this year’s competition especially that most of its athletes have also seen action in the Palarong Pambansa.
Luzon swimmers who have trained in Baguio are expected to dominate in the pool.
Mindanao, for its part, cannot also be discounted with delegation head Megronio Llamera beaming with confidence for his wards’ athletic capabilities especially in basketball, football, taekwondo and volleyball
Llamera added team Mindanao is represented by players from all Mindanao regions.
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