An estimated 1,000 athletes are expected to join the 14th Southeast Asian (SEA) Youth Athletics Championships and the Philippine Open Athletics Championships slated to be held in Ilagan City, Isabela on March 2-3.
ASEAN member countries Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam and the host Philippines are sending entries to the tournament, which is for athletes 13 years to 17 years old.
On the other hand, athletes from the ASEAN countries, together with those from Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Mongolia, Jordan and United Arab Emirates, will participate in the Philippine Open Athletics Championships on March 6-8.
The 14th SEA Youth Championships will feature 38 events while the Philippine Open will have 44 events. Both tournaments include two mixed gender events.
Ilagan City, which has a world-class athletics stadium, will host the two tournaments for the third straight year.
"We are looking forward to another successful staging of the 14th Southeast Asian Youth Athletics Championships and the Philippine Open Athletics Championships in Ilagan City. We expect our athletes to give their best in these competitions," Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) president, Philip Ella Juico, said during the media launch in Manila.
Also present were MILO vice president for marketing Lester Castillo, Judith Staples of L-Timestudio and Soleus, Jaime Villegas of Ayala Corp., Josemarie "Jay" Diaz of Ilagan City, and PATAFA regional director Drolly Claravall.
Aside from homegrown national athletes, seeing action in the Philippine Open are Filipino-Americans Eric Cray, Cristina Knott, Kayla Richardson and Trenten Beram.
Juico said the staging of the SEA Youth Championships and the Philippine Open is also a good timing because these tournaments will be a preview of what to expect from Filipino athletes when they compete in the Asian Athletics Youth Championships in Hong Kong on March 15-17, as well as the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar set on April 19-24.
Juico said the goal is to form a very competitive team that can win medals in the SEA Games, which the Philippines will host in December.
"We will be selective in choosing athletes who will compete in the SEA Games," said Juico.
Juico, former chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), said he is also considering sending 10 athletes to train and compete in the United States and Italy.
Meanwhile, Ilagan City will host the Batang Pinoy Luzon qualifying tournament on March 16-23.
The Batang Pinoy is a multi-sports competition program of the PSC for children 15 years old and below.*PNA
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