As the 17th Asian Games prepares to flip the calendar to the next month, the Philippine mission of tabbing a gold medal in the quadrennial meet is fast running out of days—and bets.
On Tuesday, one of the last teams touted to chalk up medals for the country kicks off its campaign when the taekwondo squad sends four fighters in the spotlight at Ganghwa Dolmens gymnasium here.
An optimistic Samuel Morrison, who was a quarterfinalist four years ago in Guangzhou, takes on Yerzhan Abyylkas of Kazakhstan in the -74 kg class.
“Chances for gold is high,” said the 24-year-old Morrison. “But I won’t take my foe lightly because everyone prepared hard for this event.”
Morrison needs two victories to assure the team of a bronze medal. Kristopher Robert Uy also opens his bid in the -87 kg class against Hao Chao of Macau.
A victory by Uy sets him up for a quarterfinal duel against China’s Chen Linglong, who drew a first-round bye.
Asian Juniors silver medalist Nicole Abigail Cham takes on Sarita Phongsri of Thailand in the women’s -53 kg class. Cham was a replacement for SEA Games champion Jade Zafra.
Levita Ronna Ilao Doan battles Thin Huong Giang of Vietnam in the women’s -49 kg.
Taekwondo has been a solid medal performer for the Philippines but it hasn’t won a gold yet in the Asiad.
Taekwondo jin Benjamin Keith Sembrano taken to hospital with chest pains
Taekwondo jin Benjamin Keith Sembrano was taken to the Jan Chok Medical Hospital on Monday after he complained of severe chest pains, but has returned to the Athletes Village to be monitored before being given the go signal to return to training.
The Philippine bet in the -68kg division was initially attended to by Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) nurse Ellen Constantino who alerted team doctor Ferdinand Brawner about the first medical issue met by the medical team.
Brawner rushed from the sailing venue to meet Sembrano at a polyclinic where the athlete was first brought for emergency check up before he was sent to the Jan Chok Medical Hospital for further tests.
The medical team suspected a possible chest injury sustained after training.
But Brawner allayed fears Sembrano’s case was serious after further tests revealed normal levels on the athletes’ electrocardiography, blood and carbon dioxide levels.
Sembrano’s blood calcium level was slightly on the high side but not abnormal, said Brawner.
“Nagha-hyperventilate siya when he was brought to the clinic,” Braner said.
“Baka na-dehydrate during training,” Brawner added.
“But we are not taking risks, he will have to rest before he would be given the green light to train again.”