PH Archers on target for Incheon Asian Games

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It’s still not certain if the Philippines will send a ladies archery compound team to the Asian Games in Incheon on Sept. 19-Oct. 4 but candidate Amaya Paz-Cojuangco, fresh from capturing two golds and a silver at the PNG, guaranteed a competitive showing regardless of whether or not she makes the squad.

Paz-Cojuangco, 28, said she’s hoping against hope to be included in the lineup as the joint POC/PSC task force assembling the country’s delegation couldn’t assure if compound archers will be finally named. POC chairman Tom Carrasco said compound archers were included in the initial list for accreditation but “the bigger hurdle is meeting the criteria set earlier and applied to all aspiring athletes.”

The Olympic competition in archery is limited to the recurve event where the traditional bow made of fiberglass and aluminum features a forward curve at the tips of two ends. The Asian Games will add the compound event for the first time in Incheon. The Southeast Asian (SEA) Games introduced the compound event, where the carbon fiber bow features a series of pulleys or cams at the ends of the limbs, in 2005. At the SEA Games last year, the Philippines was not represented in ladies compound. An arrow from a recurve bow can travel up to 150 miles an hour while in the compound, the speed could reach 225.

Paz-Cojuangco, who won two gold medals in the individual and team compound events at the 2005 and 2007 SEA Games, said she hopes to make the country proud once again. She was once ranked No. 11 in the world and beat No. 1 Erika Anshutz, 145-144, at the 2012 World Cup in Antalya, Turkey. “I hope we’re able to compete because we have a very good chance for medals in compound at the Asian Games,” she said.

At the recent PNG, Paz-Cojuangco took a gold medal for topping the qualifying round and another in the Olympic round, beating Katelyn Miciano, 142-138, and Abigail Tindugan, 142-141, on the Sevilla range in Novaliches. She added a silver in the mixed event with Cebu’s Dondon Sombrio, losing to Joan Tabanag and Jeff Adriano by a point in the finals.

Paz-Cojuangco submitted her travel documents to the POC/PSC task force with Philippine Archers National Network and Alliance (PANNA) president Fred Moreno’s endorsement to barely beat the deadline last May 30. “I realize I may not be named to the team even if the task force decides to send ladies compound archers,” she said. “I was able to participate in only one of two qualifying events. But I just want to show my support for PANNA and our archers. To be accredited for the Asian Games is a big step forward.”

Paz-Cojuangco is coming back from a long layoff after undergoing surgery to remove a 2-inch-by-1 1/2-inch benign, bone-eating tumor in her left jaw two years ago. “I’m grateful to Dr. Benjamin Campomanes who saved my jaw,” she said. “The procedure involved removing the bone in the left side of my mouth, taking out four teeth. Because the bone has been removed, tooth implants are not possible. My nerves remain exposed, my tongue is now a little off-center. There is constant pain but I’ve learned to live with it. When I eat and speak, I feel discomfort. Without the support of my husband, I wouldn’t have been able to survive.” Paz-Cojuangco’s husband Kit is Vice Governor of Tarlac and son of Tarlac Rep. Henry Cojuangco. They have a five-year-old son Alfonso.

Seeded to make the ladies compound team in Incheon are Tabanag, Miciano, Tindugan and Ingrid Hernandez. According to Paz-Cojuangco, there are about 32 archers in the national training pool for both recurve and compound.

“I’m back to training every day,” she said. “For the PNG, I trained about three weeks. I’m working closely with coach Choi Won Tae. There are no definite slots for archery in the Philippine delegation to Incheon yet. I’m excited to compete internationally. I’ve participated in over 30 international competitions and in 2007, I competed in Germany, Italy, Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan. Even when I was pregnant with Alfonso, I competed. Now, I’m starting a new chapter in my life with my family. I’m confident I can go back to my level of play in 2007. At the PNG, I had two ends with a perfect score of 60 and that was only after three weeks of training.”

Paz-Cojuangco said she’s ready to commit her time to archery. “I have my obligations to my family, my husband and son who are my priorities,” she said. “I work around my schedules with them. I think our archers, both male and female, are world-caliber. Jennifer Chan was once ranked in the world’s top 10. If our archers are given a chance to compete, they won’t let our country down.”

By : Joaquin Henson, Philstar.com

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