TAIPEI—A 128-strong Philippine delegation, led by a crack billiards and wushu team, will pit guts and skills with the rest of the world’s best in the 29th Summer Universiade, which begins here today with its opening ceremonies.
Rodlin John Bautista of Trinity University of Asia and Gillian Margaret Go of University of Santo Tomas, together with fellow cue artist James Lim from Far Eastern University are some of the Philippines’ best bets in the 11-day sporting spectacle featuring the world’s greatest university athletes.
Bautista, for one has been a dominant force in the local stage, while winning a couple of crowns internationally, including the Tiger Cup 10-Ball Championship, where he also emerged as the Most Valuable Player.
On the other hand, Go was a veteran of the World 10-Ball Championship where she competed with the likes of world queens Rubilyn Amit and Iris Ranola.
Also expected to figure prominently for Team Philippines are wushu artists Kelly Marcelo, Jomar Balangui, Gladys Sia, Czarina Joy Hagos, Abigail Faniega, Earl Van Erick Pasno and Sean Elijah Wico Siy, spearheaded by team leader Su Hun Kiong.
Sanctioned by the Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines, the Filipinos are taking part in 13 events such as archery, athletics, badminton, billiards, diving, judo, golf, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, lawn tennis, weightlifting and wushu from Aug. 19 to 30. The team is backed by San Miguel Cop., Bestank and Garfield Sportswear.
“It will be a tough climb for all of our athletes. But I’m sure everyone will give it their best,” said FESSAP president David Ong.
“We wish them all the luck as we cheer them in the sidelines,” added Ong, who is joined here by FESSAP Chaiman and Delegation Head Alvin Tai Lian, flag bearer Angel Ngu, honorary president of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Christian Tan, weightllifting official.
Once called the World University Games, the Summer Universiade is a widely-publicized multi-sports event held every two years. It is considered by many as the Olympics at the university level.
This year, the Universiade has attracted 141 countries from around the world, including sports powers United States, Russia, China, Japan, France, Italy, Great Britain, Canada, Ukraine, Brazil, Australia and Germany.
This year’s edition marks the fourth straight time that the FESSAP is sending athletes to the Summer Universiade.
The FESSAP is the sole national university sports organization that is recognized by the International University Sports Federation, which is the international governing body for university sports that organizes the Summer Universiade, Winter Universiade and the World University Championship in various sports.
The Philippines owns an overall medal tally of one gold and one silver in its three previous participation in the Summer Universiade.
Recognized by the FISU since 2009, the FESSAP first competed in the Summer Universiade in 2011 in Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China and grabbed a silver medal through the efforts of men’s taekwondo jin Samuel Thomas Harper Morrison. San Miguel Beer superstar JuneMar Fajardo got his baptism of fire in that 2011 edition playing for University of Cebu.
Two years later in Kazan, Russian Federation, the Philippine flag was raised for the first time ever during the medal presentation as Grandmaster Wesley So romped away with the gold medal in men’s chess in a blitz match following a seven-way tie at the top of the standings.
It was the country’s first and only gold-medal finish in its Universiade history. Only 39 other nations snared a gold during the 2013 Kazan Games.