HANGZHOU – As the drums rolled heading to Saturday’s big event, which is the grand opening, Filipino athletes encountered some rough sailing Thursday in the 19th Asian Games here.

It drizzled all day in this quiet capital of Zhejiang province as the Philippines vied in women’s windsurfing and men’s rowing in the morning then women’s beach volleyball and men’s volleyball in the evening.

Surfer Arrianne Paz finished fifth and last in the first four races of the windsurfing iQ Foil at the NBX Sailing Centre. Xianting Huang of China, Kwan Ching Ma of Hong Kong and Aticha Homraruen of Thailand led the march to the medal rounds.

In rowing, a sport Filipinos have tried so hard to develop for many years, Feiza Lenton and Tammy Sha failed to get to the medal round of the women’s lightweight double sculls repechage at the Fuyang Water Sports Centre.

Lenton and Sha were fourth in 8:05.56, which was 24.94 ticks behind the top pair from Uzbekistan – Luizakhon Islomova and Malika Tagmatova.

In the same boat were Edgar Ilas and Zuriel Sumintac, who finished third in the men’s side with a time of 7:10.97. They were 15.19 seconds off the fastest pair from India.

But it doesn’t mean that the Filipino rowers are heading home now as they will still vie on Sunday.

Later on, the beach volley pair of Kylem Progella and Grydelle Matibag provided some good news by turning back Kin Teng Tam and Keng Lai Lei of Macao, 21-18, 21-15. The sun-burnt Pinays bounced back and stayed alive after a 14-21, 10-21  loss to Indonesia’s Dhita Juliana and Desi Ratnasari last Wednesday.

Over at the Deqing Sports Centre, which is 90 minutes away from the main hub here, the men’s volleyball team was fighting for dear life against Japan, which didn’t come here in full force. Its top team opted to skip the Asiad as it prepares for the Paris Olympics.

The Pinoy spikers, who made a huge impression by winning the silver medal in the 2019 SEA Games at home, are, unbelievably, in their first Asian Games in 49 years or since the 1974 Asian Games in Tehran where the Philippines finished sixth with a lone victory at the expense of Pakistan.

Blurred memories of that day in September decades ago came back after the Philippines defeated Afghanistan, 25-23, 25-16, 25-12, last Wednesday following a 22-25, 23-25, 20-25 loss to Indonesia last Tuesday.

If Bryan Bagunas and company succeed against the Japanese, they will advance to the next round and can start entertaining bigger hopes of surpassing the 1974 finish.

As the day goes by, members of the Philippine delegation have started trickling in for the biggest Asian Games in history. On paper, 12,417 athletes from 45 countries will dispute the 481 gold medals in 40 sports.

2023-09-21T16:46:24Z dg43tfdfdgfd