Olympian Diaz, Paralympian Medina to lead SEA Games Baton Run on March 12

MANILA-- Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and table tennis player Josephine Medina will lead the participants of the Philippine leg of the Rising Together-Baton Run, a two-month event organized by the Malaysia Organizing Committee (MASOC) to promote the 29th Southeast Asian Games and the 9th ASEAN Para Games to be held in Kuala Lumpur late this year.

Diaz, a silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics, and Medina, a bronze medal winner in the Paralympics, will be joined by Marestella Torres-Sumang and Joy Tabal of athletics, Paralympics athletes, Gilas Pilipinas and players from the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the 7-km. run on March 12, starting in front of Mabini Hall in MalacaAang Palace and finishing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

"We welcome the government of Malaysia's enthusiasm. This is a good way to strengthen ties with our neighbors in Southeast Asia," said Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William Ramirez on Tuesday.

The first leg of the Baton Run was held in Brunei on March 5. The event was witnessed by Philippine Amabassador to Brunei Meynardo Montealegre and PSC Commissioner Celiua Kiram.

The Baton Run, which was formally announced by MASOC chief executive officer Dato' Seri Zolkples Embong on Thursday in Putrajaya, will have famous athletes as participants and will pass through ASEAN's iconic landmarks and popular places.

Dato' Seri Zolkples Embong said "the participation of the whole Southeast Asia community is paramount in hyping up the excitement and spirit of the Games".

The baton will travel to the capital cities of ASEAN member states, beginning at Brunei's Bandar Seri Begawan on March 5 and proceeding to Manila on March 12.

The other schedules are Laos (March 18), Myanmar (March 25), Thailand (April 1), Vietnam (April 9), Timor Leste (April 15), Cambodia (April 22), Indonesia (April 30), and Singapore (May 13).

Malaysia will hold a torch relay that will travel all over the country from May 14 to August 12.

The SEA Games will be held on Aug. 19-30 while the ASEAN Para Games will take place on September 17-23.

The MASOC chief said Malaysian Youth and Sports Minister YB Brig. Gen. Khairy Jamaluddin will attend the Baton Run in Brunei, Laos, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.

"This is indeed a historical event and we hope the whole Southeast Asia community will join hands in ensuring that the event runs smoothly," said Dato' Zolkples.

The Philippines was first informed of the Baton Run in a meeting between Malaysian officials and PSC officials last December.

Source: Philippines News Agency