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.
Tags: arnis, Miguel Zubiri, Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation, Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation National, Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation National (PEKAF) Battle of Champions, Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine Sports Commission