MANILA-- The Philippines has a good chance of winning medals in ice hockey and figure skating in the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
The two sports will be introduced in the biennial tournament slated to be held Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on August 19-31.
The 23-member ice hockey team bagged the bronze medal in Division II at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan last month. Figure skater Michael Christian Martinez, a veteran of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, placed seventh while his teammates Jules Alpe, Shayanne Casapao and Samantha Cabiles, and speed skater Kathryn Magno also performed well despite being first-timers in the Asian Winter Games.
"I can say that we have a good chance in the Malaysia SEA Games considering the bronze medal performance of our ice hockey team and our figure skaters are also talented," said Tom Carrasco, head of the SEA Games Task Force, during Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Golden Phoenix Hotel in Pasay City.
Casapao, Cabiles and Magno, all based in the United States, were honored to represent the Philippines in the Sapporo Asian Winter Games.
"I'm extremely excited, and truly honored to have the opportunity to participate in the sport that I love for the Philippines," said the 18-year-old Casapao, whose parents migrated to the US when they were teenagers.
When asked how she prepared for the Sappporo Games, Casapao replied, "My preparation consisted of on-ice and off-ice training six days a week. Running my programs and practicing my jumps and spins on the ice. Off the ice, I train at the gym one to two hours daily, working on total body strength and conditioning." She trained at the Pickwick Ice rink in Burbank, California with her coach Darin Matthewson.
Cabiles was born and raised in Lanai, Hawaii until she was nine years old. She moved to Michigan and started to skate at the age of 12.
"It's an incredible opportunity to be able to represent my country internationally, especially in Japan at the Asian Winter Games," said the 20-year-old Cabiles, a consistent honor student. She won silver at the RIG Reykjavik International Games in Iceland and Summer Skate in Canada in 2015, and a bronze medal at the Triglav tournament in Slovenia in 2014. She also enjoys photography, fashion blogging, trampoline, tennis and swimming.
Magno was born in San Jose, California. Her mother is from Quirino, Isabela while her father is from Subic Bay, Olongapo.
"It's a great honor and I am very proud to represent the Philippines in this 2017 Asian Winter Games. I'm happy that the Philippine Olympic Committee and Philippine Skating Union have chosen me to represent in short track speed skating. There are no words to truly express how grateful I am to have this opportunity," said the graphic designer who graduated at the Art Institute of California in Sunnyvale.
Magno was a member of three figure skating clubs since 1995 before shifting to short track speed skating. She trained in Utah for five months before going to Japan.
"Training at the Olympic facility gave me the proper and formal training needed to ready myself for the competition. Within the months, I was also traveling back and forth to the Philippines to train at SM Megamall," said Magno, who was introduced to figure skating when she was five years old. She has competed abroad as a member of the Philippine National figure skating team from 2008 to 2011.
"In 2014, I decided to try short track speed skating in which I found a new passion on the ice. That year, I was able to make history as the first ever Filipino speed skater to race and earn a speed skating medal for the country. I only hope I can make more history for our country in the sport as well as see the sport grow in a tropical country like Philippines," Magno further said.
In 2016, Magno won four gold medals in the International Skating Union (ISU) World Tri-Series SEA Cup in Singapore. She also got another gold in the ISU World Tri-Series Southern Cross in Australia in the same year.
Source: Philippines News Agency