29 Filipino athletes to compete in 2017 Asian Winter Games

MANILA — The Philippines will send 29 athletes to the 2017 Asian Winter Games in Japan, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman Tom Carrasco announced during the weekly POC Radio Forum.

Chef de Mission Carrasco said it will be the first time that the Philippines is sending a big delegation to the quadrennial tournament slated Feb. 19 to 26 in Sapporo, the capital of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Carrasco, who is also president of the Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP), said 23 of the 29 athletes are members of the ice hockey team which won a Division 2 tournament in Hong Kong.

Michael Martinez, a veteran of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, is entered in figure skating along with Jules Alpe, US-based Shayane Casapao and Samantha Cabiles.

Ryan Espiritu will see action in snowboarding while Kathryn Magno is competing in speed skating. Both athletes are based abroad.

Except for Martinez, the rest are first-timers in Continental competition but Carrasco is optimistic on their medal potential.

The Filipino figure skaters and ice hockey players are using the Asian Winter Games as pre-SEA Games tournament. Figure skating and ice hockey are among five sports to be introduced in the 2017 SEA Games slated Aug. 19 to 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Carrasco has submitted the names of the 29 athletes and nine coaches to the Asian Winter Games Organizing Committee when he attended the first Chef de Mission Meeting in Hokkaido last week.

Nine more officials including the medical and secretariat will complete the delegation. Jean Malanum/PNA-northboundasia.com