Wrestlers Noel Norada and Jason Baucas will banner the Philippine campaign in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in Cambodia next month.
The SEA Games will take place May 5 to 17, with the wrestling competition at Chroy Changvar International Convention and Exhibition Center in Phnom Penh scheduled for May 14 to 16.
In the Manila SEAG in 2019, Norada (63kg) and Baucas (72kg) produced gold medals in Greco-Roman.
Norada entered in the 67kg category in Vietnam last year and settled for the bronze medal.
Hopes are high for both athletes to deliver again in Cambodia, now that they are back in their natural weight categories.
President Alvin Aguilar, Wrestling Association of the Philippines said in an interview on Sunday
“They can, for sure. In Vietnam, both of their weight classes were taken out so they both had to fight in higher weights. In this SEA Games, they will be fighting in their natural weight classes.”
Others in the line-up are Michael Vijay Cater (55kg), Chlovelle Van Adolfo (67kg) and Jason Balabal (82kg) in Greco-Roman; and Alvin Lobreguito (57kg), Ronil Tubog (61kg), Jhonny Morte (65kg), Joseph Angana (70kg), Jefferson Manatad (92kg), Chino Sy (97kg), Jiah Pingot (50kg), Maribel Angana (53kg), Grace Loberanes (55kg), Cathlyn Vergara (59kg), playing-coach Cristina Vergara (65kg) and Jean Mae Lobo (72kg) in Freestyle.
Except for Adolfo, Sy, Cathlyn Vergara and Lobo, all are medalists in 2019 and 2022.
Minalyn Foy-os Langngag and Noemi Tener, both back-to-back SEA Games silver medalists, have retired.
Also joining the Cambodia trip are coaches Melchor Tumasis, Jimmy Angana, Francis Villanueva, Margarito Angana Jr., Efrelyn Crosby and Maybelline Masuda, and referees Karen Perater Lester Del Rosario and Michael Baletin.
President Alvin Aguilar further stated,
“I think we can do five golds.”
“Cristina Vergara, who is a coach now, is the best female wrestler we have ever produced. She has a really big chance at getting the gold medal.”
During the SEA Wrestling Championships which took place Dec. 16 to18, 2022 in Cambodia, the Philippines pocketed one gold (Lobreguito), five silvers (Baucas, Cater, Tubog, Pingot and Mariane Mariano), and five bronzes (Manatad, Margarito Angana Jr., Morte, Jefferson Calingayan and Maribel Angana).
Vietnam has remained unbeatable for the past two SEA Games. It collected 17 gold medals in 2022 (Hanoi) and 12 in 2019 (Manila).
Cambodia, meanwhile, is expected to make an impression on home soil. In 2019, it bagged one gold, one silver and four bronze medals to finish second behind Vietnam, while the Philippines ranked third with seven silver and five bronze medals.
Last year, the Cambodians pocketed three gold, three silver and one bronze medals at the Wrestling and Beach Wrestling Championships of Thailand. They have improved a lot since training under Iranian coach Komeil Ghasemi in 2021.
Ghasemi is a gold medalist in freestyle (120kg) at the 2012 London Olympics.
Sources: THX News & Philippine News Agency.