THE Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) is confident it will do even better in this year’s Southeast Asian Games than it did during the 2013 edition of the meet in Myanmar.
In terms of the number of possible golds the Filipino tracksters can produce, Patafa president Philip Ella Juico said the association is looking of at least winning eight gold medals, not to mention two others likely to be delivered by Fil-Am Caleb Stuart in the hammer throw and shot put, respectively.
“We’re very optimistic. Right now we’re probably looking at eight very strong possibilities,” said Juico in Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
“Plus another five or six where we have 50-50 (chances). And this does not include Caleb’s performance.”
The 24-year-old Stuart sat beside Juico during the session presented by San Miguel Corp., Accel, Shakey’s, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. together with US coaches Dick Beardsley, Bill Schnier, and Jim Lafferty, along with Patafa secretary general Renato Unso.
Younger brother of Philippine Blu Girls team member Morgan Stuart, Caleb admitted the June 5-16 biennial meet in Singapore serves as his first biggest international tournament and he’s definitely looking forward to representing the country of birth of his mother, who is from Pampanga.
Both his personal best in the hammer throw (68.66 meters) and shot put (17.88) are better than the existing SEA Games records of 62.29 and 17.64 meters, respectively.
Still, the 6-foot-2 athlete, who earlier dabbled in basketball and football, said he’ll just enjoy his first stint with the national team and not think about the pressure of having to win both his events.
“I think the only thing I can do is to treat it like any other tournaments I competed, just focus, and do the routines that I usually do,” said the Fil-Am out of University California Riverside.
“But yeah I’d like to (deliver the golds),” he added.
For the record, Juico said the best performance of the Filipino tracksters in the SEA Games came in the 1981 Manila staging of the meet when they won a total of 12 gold medals.
In Myanmar two years ago, the track and field team delivered six golds medals, something which the Patafa chief believes can be surpassed given the ‘extra effort, extra energy, and extra attention’ being given by the association to the athletes.
Of course, the athletics team is not being cocky, said Juico.
“As always, this is the beauty of sports, you’ll never know what surprises your opponents have in store for you,” stressed the former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman. “So you just do your best, do your thing, and treat it as another competition.”