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Asian Games preview: Young gymnasts aim for error-free performances

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Gymnasts ready for Asian Games (2:39)

Shieldannah Sabio and Nicole Medina of the Gymnastics National Team share their preparations for the Asian Games. (2:39)

Editor's note: As part of our coverage of the 2018 Asian Games to be held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia from August 18 to September 2, we will be previewing the different national teams that will see action for the Philippines.

2014 Asian Games performance

In the 2014 edition of the Asiad, Reyland Capellan was the Philippines' only representative in the artistic gymnastics competition. He failed to advance in all the gymnastics events he competed in.

2018 Asian Games representatives

Artistic Gymnastics

  • Reyland Capellan

  • Carlos Yulo

  • Jag Gwynn Timbang

  • Ma. Cristina Onofre

  • Corinne Leanne Bunagan

Rhythmic Gymnastics

  • Shieldannah Sabio

  • Marian Nicole Medina

Background

The Philippines had no luck in the previous Asian Games held in Incheon, Korea with Reyland Capellan as the lone representative in the gymnastics competition. But the country reaped some success in the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur last year, taking home two golds, one silver and three bronzes.

Kaitlin De Guzman led the country's gymnastics team with three medals of her own unfortunately she isn't part of the team competing in Indonesia this year. Spearheading the charge will be Reyland Capellan, who won the gold medal in the floor event of the gymnastics competition in the 2017 SEA Games. He will compete in the artistic gymnastics competition along with four others.

The country, however, will only have two bets for rhythmic gymnastics -- Shieldannah Sabio and Nicole Medina.

The two young women, who were part of the group that bagged a bronze in the 5 Hoops event, started training for the Asian Games just two months after the 2017 SEA Games ended. They are aware that their opponents in Indonesia will be a lot tougher than the ones they faced last year so they're making sure to polish all their routines by training eight hours a day, six days a week.

"The Asian Games is bigger than the Southeast Asian Games, and the competition is a lot more tough. I'm ready but I need to train more to achieve our target goal," said the 16-year-old Medina. "It's tough but we are improving. We have a game plan that we follow so we can properly execute our routines."

Sabio, who first learned about gymnastics by watching videos on YouTube, admitted the preparation has been "very tiring."

"We train eight hours every day. But I always give my best when training so I can master my routines. So when I perform in the Asian Games, I can execute them properly."

Medina added that the reason they go hard in training is because it allows them to improve, hoping they can reach the same level of skills as their counterparts from other countries.

"The level of gymnastics here in the Philippines is far from the other countries. Other international athletes have more experience and have been training for years under the same coach. But we're still adjusting to our foreign coach," she said. "Sometimes it's difficult. But we trust our coach because he has a ton of background in gymnastics and experience as a coach."

Prognosis for Indonesia

The two girls agreed that the gymnasts to watch out for in the upcoming Asiad are the ones from China, Korea, Japan and Kazakhstan.

But Medina said the team is using the stint in Indonesia as training ground for the next SEA Games.

"We're treating the Asian Games as experience that we can use in our preparation for the SEA Games next year," she said.

Sabio and Medina will compete in the Asiad for the first time in their careers. But neither of them feel any kind of pressure and they share the same sentiments regarding to what they want to achieve there.

"Not all gymnasts here in the Philippines are given the opportunity to become a national athlete and compete in the Asian Games," said the 15-year-old Sabio. "(You have) to be confident and don't mind the competition, even if they're really good. You have to believe that you can also perform well and get good scores," said Sabio.

"Our target is attain scores close to the better Asian countries, if we medal that would be just a bonus for us. I'll be content as long as I execute my routine perfectly. The scores and the medal will just follow," ended Medina.