SEVEN Thomasian athletes will don the national colors in the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from August 19 to 30.
Ernest John and Emily Obiena, Elbren Neri and Eloiza Luzon (for athletics); Rodolfo Reyes Jr. and Jocel Lyn Ninobla (poomsae); and Noelito Jose (fencing) will represent the flag in the biennial multi-sports meet alongside 490 other Filipino delegates.
For Ernest, the older of the Obiena siblings, this edition of the SEA Games has been his main goal since failing to qualify in the recent Rio Olympics.
After winning silver in the recent International Athletic Meeting in Velenje, Slovenia behind a 5.50-meter performance, Ernest Obiena is the favorite to win the gold medal in Malaysia since the SEA Games record for pole vault stands at 5.30 meters.
The 2015 SEA Games silver medallist embarked on strength trainings and even did gymnastics so he can “get better connection with the pole.”
Emily Obiena, who holds the Philippine junior record in pole vault with 3.40 meters, will get a taste of her first SEA Games experience.
Two-time UAAP champion and Female Trackster Luzon seeks to add a SEA Games medal in her collection as she competes in the 4×100-meter dash and 4×400-meter relay.
“I am excited since this is my first time but I am nervous because the athletes I will compete against are not like any other I faced before. This is a challenge for me,” Luzon said.
Joining Luzon and the Obienas in the national athletics team is 1,500-meter runner Neri who skipped the recent UAAP season to focus on his SEA Games stint.
Neri said the team has been training “rain or shine” and will join the 31st Malaysian International Open Masters Athletics Championships on July 17 as part of their preparation.
Reigning SEA Games gold medallist Reyes aims to defend the country’s title in the men’s poomsae event,while Ninobla looks to help her squad improve their bronze-medal finish in 2015.
“It’s overwhelming to be chosen as one of the athletes who will represent the country,” Ninobla said.
Tiger Fencer Jose, who exited early in the epee competition of the 2015 SEA Games, joined the Asian Fencing Championships 2017 in Hong Kong to sharpen his skills for August.
“Our athletes’ first target is the SEA Games then the Olympics. The University is very proud for producing national team athletes,” Institute of Physical Education and Athletics moderator Rodrigo Sambuang said.