Expect the Philippine taekwondo team to deliver the gold medals in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila.
Barcelona Olympics bronze medalist Stephen Fernandez can’t be wrong.
“Our taekwondo team will definitely surpass our achievements in the last SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur two years ago,” said Fernandez during the 11th Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports “Usapang Sports” at the National Press Club in Intramuros yesterday.
“As our good friend and 2019 SEAG chef de mission Cong. Monsour (Del Rosario) told you when he guested here to weeks ago, our taekwondo association is preparing very hard for the SEA Games. As host country in the SEA Games, ayaw naman natin na mapahiya tayo dito sa taekwondo community natin,” added Fernandez, who rose to prominence by representing the country twice in the Olympics in 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona, where he won the bronze.
The Filipinos captured two golds, three silvers and four bronzes in the last SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2017.
Winning the gold were Morrison in the men’s kyorugi lightweight division and the team of Reyes and the Mella brothers in the men’s poomsae event.
Added Fernandez: “There are a series of activities lined up or national team sa mga darating na buwan. Katatapos lang namin ng Carlos Palanca Jr. this month in Mall of Asia where our national players competed and were able to defend their slots in the national team.”
While he did not predict the exact medals that the country would win, Fernandez said he is confident that the country’s leading taekwondo jins would deliver.
“We have Pauline Lopez, one of our top bets in the female category. Samuel Morrison is also there in the men’s division. And we have a formidable poomsae team made up JR Reyes and the Mella brothers, Dustin Jacob and Raphael Enrico,” explained Fernandez.
Fernandez, who was also appointed as sports director of College of St. Benilde in 2013, also agreed with the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine National Anti-Doping Organization about the many anti-doping measures being taken as part of the SEAG hosting.
“We really have to educate our athletes about all these anti-doping measures,” said Fernandez, who added Dr. Raul Canlas is the right man to supervise this matter.
“In 2005 SEAG, one of our gold medalists was found to have taken a slimming tea. But at that time, talagang hindi niya alam. Now kailangan talaga ng vigilance,” recalled Fernandez.
“Ngayon, lagi natin sinasabi sa ating mga atleta, before any medication is taken, kailangan talaga nila ipa-alam muna. Kahit 'yun mga spray. We have to check with Dr. Canlas kung kasama ito sa mga gamot na ipinagbabawal ng WADA.”
Fernandez was one of four personalities who attended the weekly session sponsored by the PSC and the National Press Club and shown live on Facebook via Glitter Livestream.
Also present were MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, who talked about the coming MPBL Al-Star Weekend scheduled on March 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena; Community Basketball Association operations manager Beaujing Acot and Nueva Ecija Defenders team owner Atty. Bong Africa.