Filipino pole-vault star EJ Obiena — REUTERS

HOPEFUL. This will be the general feeling of the Philippine track and field team spearheaded by World Championships pole vault bronze medalist EJ Obiena waging war in next month’s Phnom Penh Southeast Asian Games (SEAG).

Mr. Obiena was the biggest name among the 52-strong roster recently released by Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association executive director and secretary-general Edward Kho.

It also included 2022 Hanoi SEA Games gold winners Eric Cray (400m hurldes), Clinton Bautista (110m hurdles), William Morrison III (shot put) and Kayla Richardson (100m).

Other notable athletes in the squad were past SEA Games gold medalists Melvin Calano (javelin), Aries Toledo (decathlon), Kristina Knott (200m), Christine Hallasgo (marathon), Natalie Uy (pole vault), Sara Dequinan (heptathlon) and Anfernee  Lopena (mixed relay).

Several exciting Fil-Heritage athletes headed by Umajesty Williams, who will try to prove his worth in the 200m and 400m and relays, and John Cabang Tolentino, who will see action in the 110m hurdles and the relays.

Also in the roster but have yet to secure their Philippine passports were Angel Frank, Danae Manibog and Lauren Hoffman, who are all racing in the 400m and the relays.

With a loaded team, the country is aiming to surpass its five-gold, seven-silver and 14-bronze haul in Hanoi as well as the 11-8-8 harvest in 2019 edition of biennial event at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

Hope does springs eternal. — Joey Villar