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Reprises role as launching pad of aspiring athletes towards stardom

22nd Milo Olympics unfurls today

CEBU, Philippines - It’s anybody’s game as over 5,000 young aspiring athletes from different elementary and secondary schools all over the region converge in the Queen City of the South for the 22nd Milo Little Olympics Visayas Finals, which will reprise its role as launching pad of aspiring athletes towards stardom as it fires off with another grandiose rites this afternoon at the Cebu City Sports Center.

Defending overall champion University of San Carlos (USC) will face a much tougher field of opposition this time, especially with the return of athletics powerhouse  University of Cebu (UC).

“It’s going to be a tough battle for everybody,” said head organizer Ricky Ballesteros in a press conference yesterday at the Cube Wing of SM Seaside City. “We have USC who will be defending its overall title, but I expect UC to come back strong after missing last year’s competition.”

“Aside from the two powerhouse teams, we should not forget about Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, Abellana National Schools and athletes coming from Bacolod City and Iloilo City. That makes this year’s action very exciting and interesting,” added Ballesteros.

For his part, Milo Sports Executive Robbie de Vera said they are happy as the Milo Olympics continues to be one of the stepping stones for young athletes in their quest of representing the country in international events.

“Our goal is really to prepare them for the next level. We want to be in these young athletes' athletic journey,” said De Vera. “We can see the fruits of our program in the ongoing Southeast Asian Games. Early gold medallists in the likes of Mary Joy Tabal and gymnasts Kaitlin De Guzman to name a few, are products of our program.”

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Meanwhile, the annual spectacle bankrolled by Nestle Philippines, which takes pride as the breeding ground of future stars in Phl sports,will kick off with a pompous ceremony, starting off with the traditional parade of athletes at 1 pm.

Highlighting the affair is the selection of Miss Milo Little Olympics for both levels as well as the colorful and lively cheerdance competition. Exciting sidelights are also on tap for the biggest school delegation, inter-school loudest cheer, inter-school marching parade and best in 'saludo', and most disciplined.

Badminton star Tricia Merced, medallist in the ASEAN Schools Games, will lead the oath of sportsmanship, while trackster John Marvin Rafols will light the urn of peace and unity.

A total of 144 schools will compete in the elementary division, while 125 are joining in the secondary action.

For the overall standings that will be based on points and not medals, the top 10 schools in both divisions will be feted. There will also be a Most Outstanding Athlete in each sporting event.

All in all, 15 sporting disciplines will be contested in the three-day joust that will go full blast on Friday yet.

Arnis, chess, gymnastics, karatedo, scrabble, table tennis and taekwondo will take place at SM Seaside City, swimming, athletics, football and sepak takraw at CCSC, basketball and secondary volleyball at Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu in Canduman, Mandaue City, elementary volleyball at SHS-Ateneo Mango Avenue campus, badminton at MetroSports, elementary tennis at Alta Vista Golf and Country Club and secondary tennis at CitiGreen Tennis Resort. (FREEMAN)


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