Filipino pride Margielyn Didal and EJ Obiena are set to wave the Philippine Flag as the country's flag bearers in the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China on Sept. 23.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino announced the news during the send-off ceremony for athletes at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City on Monday, Sept. 18.
“The flag bearer of the Philippine delegation for females is Margielyn Didal who got gold in the last Asian Games. For the male, multi-medalist EJ Obiena,” he said.
Obiena, who is currently number 2 in global pole vaulting, is the first Filipino to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. On Monday, Sept. 18 (Manila Time), he bagged the silver medal in the prestigious Wanda Diamond League Final in Eugene, Oregon behind world-record holder Armanda “Mondo” Duplantis.
Moreover, the 27-year-old Filipino pole vaulter cleared the challenging 6.00m mark twice in the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary last month, pocketing the silver medal for another historic finish on the global stage.
Meanwhile, skateboarder Didal finished seventh in the women's street event during the 2020 Tokyo Southeast Asian Games. She clinched a double gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games and was made a historic win for the Philippines after earning one of the four gold medals the country took home in the 2018 Asian Games. She joins the likes of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and golfers Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan, and Lois Kaye Go.
According to Tolentino, the Philippine team will exert more effort to surpass their Asian Games performances to bag more medals than it did last 2018 where it had four gold, two silver, and 15 bronze medals.
“We will try to beat the previous record in the last Asian Games… It will be a big challenge to us, pero alam kong kaya natin iyan,” Tolentino said.
“May paghuhugutan tayo kahit kulang ang ating mga elite athletes na nasa ibang competition na kasabay ng Asian Games. I believe we can still do it,” he added.
Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richard Bachmann, meanwhile, noted the crucial role of the country's athletes as they embody the "nation's hopes and dreams."
“Our athletes carry with them the aspirations of millions of Filipinos. Kayo ang buhay na patunay na ang bawat pangarap ay natutupad sa sipag, dedikasyon at tiyaga,” Bachmann said.
396 athletes will represent the country and compete in 40 sports during the 19th edition of the Asian Games to be held from Sept. 18 to Oct. 8 in China.