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Arnis athletes aim for slots in PH team

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PH Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) President Sen. Miguel Zubiri, right, discusses the PEKAF National Battle of Champions set Saturday and Sunday here at the Le Pavilion in Pasay City. With him is tournament director Gerard Cañete.

PH Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) President Sen. Miguel Zubiri, right, discusses the PEKAF National Battle of Champions set Saturday and Sunday here at the Le Pavilion in Pasay City. With him is tournament director Gerard Cañete.

by Waylon Galvez

Berths in the national team training pool are at stake as 160 arnis athletes see action today in the Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation National (PEKAF) Battle of Champions at the Le Pavalion in Pasay City.

The participants came from the nationwide tournament conducted by the federation which is headed by Senator Miguel Zubiri, a longtime practitioner of the sport that originated in the country.

“This is the battle of champions, the culmination of all the tournaments we had,” Zubiri said yesterday. “The four gold medalists from the four legs will slug it out, the winner will be declared champion. This will determine the seeding of the Philippine team that will hopefully participate in the Southeast Asian Games.”

The format pits four gold medalists from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and National Capital Region (NCR) in crossover matches, with the winners advancing to the finals. The gold medal winners from the 20 categories will then earn slots to the national training pool.

The country will host the SEA Games next year and arnis has been identified by a joint task force of the Philippine Olympic Committee and Philippine Sports Commission as one of the sports events to be included.

“We promised that there is an opportunity for the Philippines to excel in arnis, and in arnis we can provide as much as 20 gold medals because now we have opened up many categories,” he said.

“We can contribute heavily to the national standings in the hosting of the 2019 Philippine SEA Games,” added Zubiri, who mentioned Vietnam as the toughest rival of the country in the region.

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