From Olympic medalists to local heroes, here’s who to keep your eyes on at the 2022 SEA Games
Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
The 31st SEA Games—moved to this year after originally being scheduled for 2021—begins this week in host country Vietnam, and it’s time for Filipino athletes to once again put the country and its talent in the spotlight.
You might be wondering who to watch for the potentially big stories to come out of Hanoi. We’ve got you: Here are five athletes to keep your eyes on in the next two weeks.
Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting)
Of course, we can’t start a list of top Philippine athletes without mentioning our only Olympic gold medalist. Hidilyn Diaz’s last outing in the 2019 SEA Games saw her win a gold medal in Manila, and she’s expected to top this year’s edition, barring a major upset.
EJ Obiena (pole vault)
Embattled pole vaulter EJ Obiena is returning to the SEA Games as the reigning and defending pole vault champion, and he’s also coming off a record-setting jump last year. Like Diaz, he’s highly considered the odds-on favorite to retain his title in what should be a dazzling performance.
Nesthy Petecio (boxing)
The Olympic silver medalist is coming off a previous SEA Games appearance in which she won the gold after three tries. The Philippine national boxing team will actually be defending its overall championship in the Games, and will be fighting hard with rivals Thailand and Vietnam for the top spot.
Women’s national football team
The Philippine women’s national football team—popular at the moment for booking a trip to the FIFA Women’s World Cup—has already opened their SEA Games campaign with a resounding 5-0 victory against Cambodia on Monday. The team is likely to make it to the finals after their current group was whittled down to three teams after Indonesia withdrew.
Team Sibol (esports)
As an esports powerhouse in the region, Team Sibol, the national esports delegation, is set to have a good outing in all the titles they’re competing in at the 2022 SEA Games. Chances are high, especially for Mobile Legends—arguably the country’s most popular esports game—as world champions Blacklist International is fully representing the country in the delegation after officially qualifying in the team selection last January. With the world champs on deck, it’s hard to bet against the Philippine team winning gold here.