April 20, 2018, 10:57 am
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AIMAG gold winners eye SEA Games stint

ASIAN Indoor and Martial Arts Games gold medalists Annie Ramirez and Margarita Ochoa would love to see action for the country in the 2019 Philippine Southeast Asian Games.

“That is our dream!” Ochoa exclaimed in interview together with Ramirez last Tuesday shortly after they made a courtesy call on Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex administration building.

Both grapplers visited Ramirez with the rest of the national AIMAG team led by national team chief of mission Monsour del Rosario.

“Gusto po naming makalaro sa harap ng mga kababayan namin,” said the 5-foot Ochoa, a world champion in her class, of their aspirations to compete in the regional sports showcase that will be hosted by the country two years from now after a 14-year absence.

Del Rosario, who was recently appointed by the Philippine Olympic Committee as the national team chief of mission of the national squad in the 2019 SEA Games, had earlier said that he would be pushing for the inclusion of jiu jitsu in SEA Game calendar of disciplines.

As the host country, the Philippines has the prerogative to include any sport of its own choosing, subject to approval of the SEA Games Federation members.    

Ramirez, who ruled the women’s 49-kilogram division, and Ochoa, who topped the women’s 55-kg class, were the country’s top winners in the 5th AIMAG held from Sept. 17 to 28 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. They will each receive P2 million in incentives under Republic Act 10699, or the new incentives law.

Asked what they would do with their bonuses, Ramirez replied: “We intend to use some of our money to train and continue competing abroad.  I understand that our sport will also be in next year’s Asian Games so we are looking forward to that.”

They noted they might be competing in different weight classes in the Indonesian Asian Games next year but are willing to adjust and make sacrifices just to compete for the country in the meet.

When told that PSC would take care of their training and other expenses, the former judoka insisted that “we want to invest on our own training and not rely solely on others.”

Ramirez said he is arranging another courtesy call with President Duterte in Malacanang where the AIMAG and Asean Para Games medalists in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia would be awarded their incentives.

“Like what we did with our Malaysia SEA Games medalists, we want our achievers in the AIMAG and Asean Para Games to receive their incentives from President Duterte,” Ramirez said, adding the event would likely be held in the middle of October.

Aside from Ochoa and Ramirez, Filipino campaigners also garnered 14 silver and 14 bronze medalists in the Turkmen capital, with a total of P23,600,000 in cash incentives to be handed out for their efforts.

Silver medalists such as Fil-Am Eric Cray, who took runner-up honors in the men’s 60-meter sprint, and billiards stars Chezka Centeno and Rubilen Amit, who placed second in the women’s 9-ball and 10-ball competitions, respectively, will receive P1 million each under the new incentives law.
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