Meet some of the best local athletes gunning for gold in the upcoming SEA Games

By Nicole Ganglani | Lead photo from Inquirer.net | Art by Tricia Guevara

For the 30th Southeast Asian Games, the Philippines will be hosting the biggest event with over 56 sports. That’s approximately 530 medal events and nearly 11,000 athletes and team officials. One of the many things to look out for in biggest biennial tournament yet are some of our rising Filipino athletes—who  you might not have heard about yet. From swimming to downhill skateboarding, here are a few local superstars to watch out for: 

Jasmine Paler Alkhaldi (Swimming)

Alkhaldi is a 26-year-old swimmer who has represented the Philippines at the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics. She’s been a member of the national team for 10 years now and has won 12 SEA Games medals—two bronze medals in 2013, six bronze in 2015, and four bronze in 2017. This year, Alkhaldi will be representing the flag in nine swimming events, in both individual and relay races. 

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Gusto ko lang is better than the last SEA Games. I’ve had four bronze medals so I really want to change the color this time and maybe increase the number. I feel I can do better than I what I’ve done in the last SEA Games,” says Alkhaldi.

The swimming tournament will take place from Dec.4-9 at the New Clark City Aquatics Center.

Raphael Trinidad (Wakeboarding)

Born and raised in Calamba, Laguna, Trinidad is an 18-year-old wakeboarder. He has won four gold medals in the Philippine Cable Wakeboarding Championships. Just last February, Trinidad also bagged silver in the 10th International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) Cable Wakeboard World Championship held in Buenos Aires and Argentina. The young athlete is one of the country’s biggest bets to win gold in the wakeboard competition happening on Dec. 6 at the Deca Wakeboard Park Angeles.

“Having SEA Games here really helps us have a home court advantage because one, we get to train at the park [every day]. We get to adapt ourselves to how the park feels and so we [know] what it takes and what to do when it comes to the practices. In wakeboarding, all venues are different. So having trained in the wakeboard venue is really a huge advantage for us,” says Trinidad.

Jaime de Lange (Downhill skateboarding)

De Lange, who’s known as the number one ranked skater in the Philippines , will be representing the country at the downhill skateboard event. He’s won several notable championships both in the country and internationally, including four World Cup appearances and being ranked as highest racer in Asia. He also currently stands at 15th place in the world rankings. 

“The Philippines has been dominant in skateboarding especially in Asia so the team and I are feeling really good. Other Asian countries haven’t had much international experience so with our international experience [to our advantage] we’re thinking gold or silver,” says de Lange.

The skateboard tournament will be held on Dec. 3 to Dec. 8 in Tagaytay.

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