THE clock is ticking for members of the Philippine track and field team that will see action in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur in August.
While their fiercest rivals in the SEA Games are already training overseas, the Filipinos have yet to secure funding for them to embark on their own overseas training.
“The Malaysians are in the United States while the others are already in Germany,” Philippine Athletics Track and Field secretary-general Reynato Unso told Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Golden Phoenix Hotel.
The Philippine track and field bets, especially those who are based in the country, have yet to get the green light for a training camp in Australia or China with just four months to the SEA Games.
Unso said as soon as the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) releases the budget, the 12 chosen athletes will leave for Australia for intensive training.
“We never had problems with the PSC regarding the budget. So, we’re hoping that it is released in time while the competition season in Australia is still on,” he said in the weekly session presented by San Miguel Corp., Golden Phoenix Hotel, Accel, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
A delay in the release of the budget might force the Philippine team to go to China instead.
Philip Ella Juico, the Patafa president, is hoping for the best as far as the overseas training is concerned, saying it will play a key role in the country’s bid to figure well in the SEA Games.
Athletics delivered the most number of medals for the Philippines in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore with five gold, seven silver, and nine bronze medals.
Expected to lead the charge for the Philippines are 2015 SEA Games winners Eric Cray (100m and 400m hurdles), Caleb Stuart (hammer throw), Kayla Richardson (100m) and Christopher Ulboc (3000m steeplechase), along with medal hopefuls EJ Obiena (pole vault), Marestella Torres (long jump), Harry Diones (triple jump), Trentan Beram (400m), Mervin Guarte (800m), Patrick Unso (low hurdles), Mary Joy Tabal (marathon), and the men’s 4x400m team.
Unso said while the Fil-foreign athletes will continue to train overseas, the other medal hopefuls in the SEA Games will go to either Australia or China while the others may compete in upcoming events like the Singapore Open, Malaysian Open, and Thailand Open.
The Patafa recently staged the SEA Youth Championships and the Ayala Philippine National Open in Ilagan, Isabela, and Unson said the results will weigh heavily on the composition of the team to the SEA Games.