Products of Equestrian Association of the Philippines (EAP) youth program, Diego Virata and Andrea Belovsky will represent Philippines this year at the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Naypyitaw, Myanmar in December, along with 18 year-old Carmella Lastrella.
“It’s a relatively young team. Diego is 20 and the eldest, and Andrea is only 16,” said EAP corporate secretary Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski. “They still have many chances in the future; and it’s quite strong, too, if we speak of their prospective potential,’ she added.
Mikee said that they should have chosen four athletes to complete a line-up for the team composition, but only three passed the criteria set by the Philippine Olympic Committee and Philippine Sports Commission.
In the team competition, four athletes should be fielded, with only three best scorers to count. But with Philippines only sending three equestrienes, EAP is left with a hope that all three will deliver high scores to win in the team event.
“But it’s okay to us. Our thrust, anyway, is to form a team that will be vying for honors in a bigger stage like the Asian Games, so we in the Equestrian Association of the Philippines opted for a young, but talent-rich representation in the SEA Games,” explained the new International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines.
Mikee added that the EAP’s focus is to add more equestrienes in the elite group; that’s why they are exposing young athletes in as many international competitions they can, to prepare for the Asian Games and world level competitions.
“The Asian Games set next year is fast approaching and we hope to send strong competitors there that will compose of our elite athletes. I think there are five of them, with addition coming from our youth development program,” Mikee stressed.
All three equestrienes bound for SEA Games went through a no-nonsense hardship before they made it to the line-up. They all know what they were chosen for, and that is to win medals in Myanmar.