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Philippines banking on chess, powerlifting, table tennis to impress in ASEAN Para Games

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A confident group of chessers, a battle-scarred lady powerlifter and a proud Paralympic table tennis bronze medal winner will be the fulcrum of the country’s campaign when they compete in the 9th ASEAN Para Games slated September 17-23 at Bukut Jalil National Sports Complex here.

Partially blind Minandro Ridor, who emerged the most bemedaled Filipino athlete with a four-gold medal harvest in chess in the 2015 Para Games in Singapore, has been given the honor to be the Philippines’ flag-bearer during the march of all 11 participating Southeast Asian nations on Sunday.

Ridor will be eyeing to duplicate his feat as he goes for a sweep of his events for visually impaired 2 division (partial blindness) along with wheelchair-bound Sander Severino, a FIDE Master, and Henry Lopez as the James Infiesto- and Ruel Abelgas-mentored chess team eyes seven of the 27 gold medals the delegation was predicted to win.

The 43-year-old Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta, who netted the Philippines’ its breakthrough medal in the Paralympics after snaring a powerlifting bronze in Sydney 17 years ago, will also be eyeing to strike gold in perhaps her final Para Games stint.

“I was told by my coaches that I still have four or five years left before I could retire,” said the 43-year-old Dumapong-Ancheta, who has hauled four ASEAN golds and two silvers, and two more Asian Para Games silvers.

Josephine Medina, 47, is another one to watch out for after she pocketed a table tennis bronze in the 2016 Rio de Janerio Paralympics.

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She has won six ASEAN mints, including four in the 2008 edition in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

The Philippine delegation was all accounted for after flying here from Manila two batches — the bulk in the morning and the rest in the afternoon.

The number of athletes the country is fielding in per sport are as follows: athletics (nine), badminton (seven), boccia (three), chess (17), cycling (three), goal ball (six), powerlifting (five), table tennis (nine), swimming (10), tenpin bowling (15) and wheelchair basketball (12).

The Philippines will be headed by chef de mission Ral Rosario, who flew in Tuesday to attend the delegation head meeting and will be followed by Philippine Sports commissioner Arnold Agustin and Mike Barredo, president of the newly formed Philippine Paralympic Committee, which is the differently abled athletes’ counterpart to the Philippine Olympic Committee.

The Filipinos have fielded in the sixth smallest delegation with 98 behind host Malaysia (331), powerhouse Thailand (291), Indonesia (192), Vietnam (150) and Myanmar (120).

The other participants are Singapore (92), Cambodia (70), Laos (50), Brunei (27) and East Timor (14).

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