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Sports icons to inspire SEA Games-bound Team PH

MANILA -- Filipino sports heroes led by Olympic boxing medalists Mansueto ``Onyok’’ Velasco Jr. and Leopoldo “Pol” Serrantes will motivate Filipino athletes bound for the 30th Southeast Asian Games in the Team Philippines Send-off Ng Bayan on Wednesday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila.

Bowling hall of famers Paeng Nepomuceno and Bong Coo will also provide the inspiration for the national squad to perform at their best during the Games on Nov. 30-Dec. 11 as well as Asia’s first chess grandmaster Eugene Torre.

Track and field icons Lydia de Vega-Mercado and Elma Muros-Posadas will also share their stories of triumph to the 1,115 Filipino athletes from 56 sports, all of them aiming to collectively reclaim the SEAG overall title for the country.

“Our athletes are the heart and soul of the country’s campaign in the Olympics,” said Team Philippines chef de mission and Philippine Sports Commission chairman William I. Ramirez.

Besides Ramirez, Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino and House Speaker and Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee chairman Alan Peter Cayetano will rally the athletes, including Filipino paralympic athletes, to accomplish the feat.

Senator Bong Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports, is also invited along with Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.

“With the all-out support of the government, I’m positive that our athletes will deliver,” said Ramirez, who also led Team Philippines as CDM to its first-ever overall title during the 2005 Manila SEAG.

Bamboo, known as the Prince of Philippine Rock, will be the main act during the entertainment segment of the send-off ceremony where Pilipinas, the theme song of Team Philippines will also be unveiled.

Pilipinas will be played live by Johnny Cross and his band before local bands. The Juans and Silent Sanctuary will entertain the athletes, coaches, and officials.

Majority of the gold for Team Philippines is expected to come from combat sports such as taekwondo, boxing, karatedo, judo, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, arnis, wushu, wrestling and muay.

Athletics, aquatics, billiards, chess, dancesport, triathlon, traditional boat race, weightlifting, golf and team sports basketball, softball, baseball, ice hockey and rugby sevens are also the source of gold for the country. (PR)

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