BAGUIO CITY – Filipino Muay Thai players from Baguio and Benguet are expected to help in the pursuit of gold medal in the coming 30th Southeast Asian Games which will officially start on November 30 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
National Muay Thai coach Billy Alumno believes that his wards will deliver golds but not as much as the national sports leadership wants or dreams of.
“Definitely, we will be more productive this year. We will definitely beat our lone bronze performance the last SEAG,” said Alumno, a former national boxer from Tuding, Benguet.
Alumno, however, did not name the fighters who have a good chance of coming out with golden performance.
“We are entered in nine events this time and we expect to get three, despite the prodding of the national leadership that we should get six,” Alumno said.
“But then it will be tough,” he said, particularly for Jenelyn Olsim who will be competing against two former world champions in the women’s 54kg division.
He said Olsim is not 100 percent healthy as she limps due to a knee injury.
“Although it is not that serious but then she needs to go under the knife to have it fixed,” he said.
Rusha Bayacsan, the country’s top 45kg campaigner, said she aims to bring home the gold in the women’s weikru and taksa events.
“My plan after is to train more. And sa combat naman po magfocus (focus in combat), I want to fight international,” said Bayacsan, whose mother, Brenda, was also a former Muay Thai player.
Bayacsan will be competing with partner Irene Lepatan in the tough female draw where they will face Thai players.
“It is tough for them so I am not really trying to deceive myself that we will win the gold in the women’s side. But my players are that competitive. So they will give a good performance,” Alumno said.
Although Thailand will not field a men’s duo in their national sport, Alumno will see rough sailing for Jearome Calica and Joemar Gallaza with a tough Vietnamese pair as the biggest challenge.
Alumno is wary of Vietnamese Nguyen Tran Duy Ngat, who won his second match in the ONE FC.
“Although he (Tran) is a combatant and competes in the ONE FC, he is very good,” he said.
The national coach is also confident that Islay Erica Bomogao, daughter of a Baguio councilor, will deliver in the 45-kilogram event.
The 19-year-old Bomogao won the inaugural World Martial Arts Masterships in Jincheon, South Korea and in the Muay Thai Associations World Youth Muay Thai Championships in Bangkok, Thailand last year.
“I know I can, because I really worked hard,” Bomogao said.
Bomogao spent 50 days of training in Pattaya, Thailand where she also competed in professional competitions just to improve her ware.
“I missed home and I missed my family, but then that was training. Luckily there is video call that reduced the loneliness,” said Bomogao who needs to gain weight to meet the 45kg weight requirement.
Calica has just also returned from Thailand training and reunited with his 7-year-old daughter Jherisse Athena, Baguio’s newest wushu sensation who just won sanlu quan gold medal in the Baguio Olympics Wushu Competitions.
“My kid is more popular than I,” said Calica, who is a 2001 SEAG gold medalist in wushu sanda along with Team Lakay founder Mark Sangiao, who is now a coach of kickboxing.
The four players will travel to Subic on December 1 to join other PH Muay Thai team members Joemar Gallaza, Ryan Jakiri, Alexis Mayag, Philip Delarmino and Ariel Lee Lampacan for the tournament on Dec. 3-9. (PNA)