A GROUP of world-beaters headed by lifter Hidilyn Diaz, gymnast Caloy Yulo and pole-vaulter EJ Obiena will spearhead the 814-strong Philippine team eyeing nothing but glory in next year’s 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

“It’s again a fighting team and the goal is to send the best full contingent possible,” said Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham Tolentino after yesterday’s meeting at East Ocean Palace Restaurant in Parañaque with National Sports Associations seeing action in the biennial tilt.

In all, the mayor from Tagaytay City said the host country penciled 49 sports for the competition slated May 5 to 16 and he hopes to have a shot at 608 gold medals offered in Phnom Penh — the most in SEA Games history.

Ms. Diaz, who delivered the country its breakthrough Olympic gold in last year’s Tokyo Games, spearheads weightlifting, which will send in a total of 14 representatives while Mr. Yulo, a three-time world champion, leads the 13-strong gymnastics squad.

Mr. Obiena, who beat Olympic and world champion and record-holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden and bagged home the country’s first medal in the World Championships — a bronze — in Eugene, Oregon last year, is part of track team, which will field in the most number of athletes at 47.

The other sports and entry by numbers are aquatics (39), dance sports (12), esports (45), fencing (24), fin swimming (9), jet ski (8), obstacle sports (20), sailing (8), triathlon (10), diving (2), bodybuilding (15), cycling (28), weightlifting (14), water polo (26), badminton (16), basketball (32), billiards and snookers (12), cricket (15), floor ball (40), football (46), golf (7), hockey (24), petanque (16);

Soft tennis (12), sepak takraw (22), table tennis (10), tennis (12), volleyball (28), beach volley (16), arnis (12), boxing (11), jiujitsu (6), judo (10), karate (9), kickboxing (12), kun bokator (9), muay (14), pencak silat (17), taekwondo (25), vovinam (28), wrestling (18) and wushu (20).

Competitions are deemed to benefit the hosts, who imposed a rule that their athletes could field a 100-percent participation in combat sports or martial arts while the rest of are capped.

Cambodia also exercised its privilege as host by including two indigenous sports — Kun Bokator, a martial art practices by ancient Khmer military, and Ouk Chatrang, also a Khmer chess game, which offer 21 and six mints, respectively.

The Philippines hosted the most number of sports at 56 but with 530 events in 2019, while Vietnam had a 40-sport, 526-event Games last May. — Joey Villar