PHNOM PENH: Christine Hallasgo tries to unseat the defending champion from Indonesia, while Richard Salano and Arlan Arbois shoot for a podium finish when battles in athletics begin with the 32nd Southeast Asian Games marathon competitions at 6 a.m. Saturday in Sim Reap City.
Hallasgo, the marathon champion in the 2019 edition of the games, before settling for the silver medal last year in Vietnam, will try to regain the crown with the help of teammate, newcomer Ruffa Sorongon.
Standing in her way are champion Odekta Elvina Naibaho of Indonesia and bronze medalist Ngoc Hoa Hoang Thi of Vietnam.
“Overall, the team is ready. Napaganda ‘yung maagang dating namin dito, hindi hurried at unti unti nagse-settle in time for the competitions. Our athletes are not tense. They are ready to compete,” said athletics’ secretary general Edward Kho.
And while Filipino tracksters have slowly assimilated with the running conditions with their early arrival, they can still expect fierce competition from Vietnamese runners in particular, as they have been in Cambodia much earlier, for a month to be exact, familiarizing themselves with the two proposed routes and the scorching conditions.
Meanwhile, with the weather expected to reach a high of 39*C, Salano and Arbois will challenge the dominance of defending men’s champion Hoang Nguyen Thanh of Vietnam in a field made weaker by the absence of Thailand’s Tony Ah-Thit Payne.
Payne, a naturalized New Zealand athlete, who bagged a bronze medal at the 31st SEA Games marathon in Hanoi last year, slipped and was injured while preparing for the games in Bangkok.
His absence has given Salano and Arbois an opening to fight for a podium finish, or even
pull off an upset win against the favorites.
The rest of the events of athletics will be played in Phnom Penh from May 8 to 12 at the Morodok Techno National Stadium, including pole vault on Monday with world’s no. 3 Ernest John Obiena shooting for a third straight SEA Games title.
Source : Manila Times