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Guangzhou welcomes Pinoys in flag rites

The Philippine flag is raised in formal rites, welcoming the Filpino athletes to the Games Village. JOEY MENDOZA

GUANGZHOU, China – Philippine sports officials and a representative group of athletes stood at attention as the host city hoisted the national flag and welcomed the Philippine contingent in formal mid-morning ceremonies by the banks of the Pearl River yesterday at the Asian Games Athletes Village.

Chef de mission Joey Romasanta led officials and a handful of athletes from chess, cycling and wushu that had arrived ahead of the main bulk of the Philippine contingent and later said the 188 Filipino athletes from 28 sports are fully prepared to do battle in the Asiad, the ultimate test of athletic excellence among 45 Asian countries.

“We (the POC and PSC) have prepared a lot for the Games, we leave it up to our athletes to compete well and enjoy the games,” said Romasanta, somewhat easing the pressure on the Filipinos who will be up against the world athletic powers in the 15-day meet starting tomorrow.

Speaking through an interpreter, Taing Ru Ping, acting mayor of the Games Village, said Guangzhou has put the final pieces in its four-year preparations and is ready to “embrace the peoples of Asia to the Asian Games, a stage where others will chase their dream and everybody will come together” in the spirit of friendship.

The Games theme is “Thrilling Games, one Asia.”

After the flag-raising rites Taing and Romasanta exchanged token gifts of appreciation in ceremonies in an open park by the Pearl River, overlooking the ultra-modern Asian Games gymnasium, a showpiece of Chinese architectural genius.

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Also present during the ceremonies were Philippine Sports Commission’s Chito Loyzaga, son of a basketball legend and a former PBA star, deputy chef de mission Benjamin Espiritu, POC treasurer and wushu secretary general Julian Camacho and POC administrative officer Moying Martelino.

The chess players include coach Willie Abalos and players Wesley So, Eugene Torre, and Joey Antonio.

Wushu was led by Camacho and national coach Tansui Tong Candelaria.

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