READY FOR THE GAMES AT SEA Sean Aranar and Ana Leonila Nualla performing a routine during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. FILE PHOTO
The Philippine Dance Sport Federation Inc. (PDSFI) will send a formidable team to the 2022 Southeast Asian Games (SEA) scheduled for May 12-23 in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The dancesport team, consisting of Sean Aranar, Ana Leonila Nualla, Mark Jayson Gayon, Mary Joy Renigen, Wilbert Aunzo, Pearl Marie Cañeda, Michael Angelo Marquez and Stephanie Sabalo, won the overall title of the 2019 SEA Games held in the country.
Of the 12 gold medals at stake in 2019, the Filipinos pocketed 10 thanks to Aranar and Nualla (Standard Tango, Viennese Waltz and Five Dance), Gayon and Renigen (Standard Slow Foxtrot and Waltz), Aunzo and Cañeda (Cha -cha Latin American -cha, Rumba and Samba), and Marquez and Sabalo (Latin American Paso Doble and Five Dance). They also won two silver medals from Standard Quickstep (Gayon and Renigen) and Latin American Jive (Marquez and Sabalo).
“They are the best dancers the Philippines has to offer, so we are sending them back to Vietnam,” head coach German Enriquez told the Manila Times yesterday.
He said the dancers never stopped training even during the pandemic.
“We’ve been training since 2020. During the pandemic, all venues and studios were closed, so our athletes trained at home. Our meetings were also done via Zoom,” he said.
Enriquez started coaching the Philippines team in 2019 after retiring as an athlete. He was a national champion from 2011 to 2017 when he won the silver medal in the standard Viennese waltz category at the Asian Indoor Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
While the current team seemed unbeatable, Enriquez admitted that other countries are capable of surprising in Hanoi.
“Vietnam and Thailand also have good dancers,” he said.
Vietnam finished second to the Philippines in 2019, winning two golds, seven silvers and two bronzes, while Thailand placed fourth with three silvers and seven bronzes.
Enriquez said the PDSFI holds annual ranking tournaments to determine the composition of the national team.
“‘The national team Yung, dumadaan in the namin ranking. May kami point system. May tatlong kami competitions every year to determine sino ang magre-county representative (The national team undergo ranking. We have a point system There are three competitions every year to determine who will represent the country),” the 41-year-old Zamboanga City native explained.
Enriquez, whose interest in dancing began after competing in college, can easily spot a dancer with the potential to become a champion.
“The way you move a dancer should have no difficulty. Having a strong body and learning quickly are also important,” he noted.
“He’s no longer a lucky champion athlete, say 12, compared to an older athlete. Younger, more okay (there’s a high chance of becoming a champion athlete if, say a 12-year-old , compared to an older one. The younger, the better),” added Enriquez, a criminology graduate from Zamboanga Arturo Eustaquio College.
Enriquez said the team’s long-term goal is to win the Asian Championships. He also wants his dancers to maintain their physical fitness and learn up-to-date techniques to become better athletes.
For now, the focus is on intensive training to ensure a successful campaign in Vietnam.
The team will depart on May 12, three days before the start of the dancesport competition at Long Bien Gymnasium in Hanoi.