THE Philippines is expected to send its best young athletes in the 12th Southeast Asian Youth Athletics Championships 2017 when it is held at the Iligan Sports Complex in Ilagan Isabela from March 27 to 28.
Promising youngsters like pole vaulter Francis Obiena are tipped to make their presence felt in the two-day meet, which will feature young aspirants from 10 neighboring countries.
“We are very happy that they are enthusiastic about this first international event to be held in Ilagan,” said Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Philip Ela Juico.
Early this year, Obiena followed the footsteps of his older brother EJ when he broke the course record in the 2016 Palarong Pambansa after clearing 4.06 meters.
His presence will help the Philippines beef up its performance in the two-day meet.
Last year, the Philippines placed seventh with a 1-1-1 gold-silver-bronze feat.
Karen Janario, now a college student at University of Santo Tomas, left her footprints the last time around when she earned a gold medal after it was held at Thammasat University Sports Complex in Thailand in 2016.
Juico said the National Open will be held in Isabela afterwards from March 30 to April 2.
The National Open will serve as the final tryout for local athletes seeking to compete in next year’s SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Juico and the City of Ilagan, Isabela, headed by Mayor Evelyn Diaz, recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the hosting of the twin meets.
High school tracksters seeing action in the NCAA are also expected to join.
Among them is discus thrower Emilio Florendo from La Salle Greenhills. He won the gold with his heave of 39.12 meters.