Whether the 31st Southeast Asian Games will push through or not, the Samahang Kickboxing ng Pilipinas is hell-bent on forming the final lineup of the national team.
More than 50 aspirants from various affiliate clubs have joined a bubble selection camp that followed a grueling training program designed by SKP national coach Mark Sangiao of the famed Team Lakay mixed martial arts team based in La Trinidad, Benguet.
Participants, including the current national athletes, came in small batches to maintain just enough capacity as approved by the local government. Those who survived the eliminations will take weekly antigen tests for the COVID-19 virus.
“Our objective is to really get the best of the best. We exposed them (participants) to world-class training and through this, we will be able to see who are really deserving to carry the national flag,” said Sangiao.
The national coaches, that also include Glenn Mondol, Randy Caluag and Olympian Donnie Geisler, have a marching order from SKP secretary-general Wharton Chan to come up with the camp’s top 24 athletes, where the final 12 players will be culled from.
SKP president Sen. Francis Tolentino, who was in Baguio City to attend a Senate task, briefly met with national coaches and athletes, reminding them to also focus on bigger competitions such as the Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games, Asian Championship, World Championships, and possibly the Olympics.
The Philippines won 3 golds, 2 silvers and a bronze in the kickboxing competition that made its debut in the 2019 Philippine SEA Games.
Other sports that have also started their bubble training are fencing in Ormoc City and muaythai, also in La Trinidad, Benguet.
Twelve gold medals are at stake for kickboxing in the coming SEA Games in Vietnam set Nov. 21 to Dec. 2.
But there are talks that Vietnam is planning to move the hosting of the biennial meet to 2022 due to rising cases of COVID-19 in the country, drawing objections from other members of the SEA Games Federation, including the Philippines.
Nevertheless, sports associations under Team Philippines continue to train even as the first batch of Vietnam-bound coaches, athletes and officials who had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, will get their second dose today at the Manila Prince Hotel.
Before talks of a postponement, Vietnam had earlier made COVID-19 vaccination as a requirement to participate in the SEA Games.
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