NANJING – The Chef-De-Mission of the Philippine delegation to the 2nd Asian Youth Games couldn’t ask for more following the country’s impressive show in this oven-hot city over the last 10 days.
Nathaniel “Tac” Padilla, a former youth athlete, said even before the delegation left Manila he already felt the Filipino athletes could win the gold medal here.
The five-time SEA Games gold medalist said the 54-strong delegation is the best youth team ever assembled by the Philippines.
The results show.
“I was confident we can win the gold here but our athletes did not only deliver one but two gold medals on top of three silver medals,” said Padilla.
Golfer Mia Legaspi and taekwondo jin Pauline Louise Lopez won the gold while Princess Superal of golf, Francis Aaron Agojo of taekwondo, and Jurence Mendoza of tennis delivered the silvers.
The second AYG came to a close amid very simple ceremonies Saturday night at the Nanjing Olympic Stadium, and Padilla said the Philippines should look forward to the third AYG in Sri Lanka in 2017.
“If we start training now and start scouting athletes for the next AYG then we should have a better performance,” he said.
The Philippines ended 12th among 45 countries in the medal standings that was topped by China (46-23-24), South Korea (25-13-14), Japan (7-5-6), Thailand (6-5-16) and Chinese Taipei (6-11-13).
Singapore came in next at 5-12-6, then Vietnam (5-4-2), Malaysia (4-6-7), North Korea (4-2-5), India (3-4-7), Hong Kong (2-5-13), the Philippines (2-3-0), and Indonesia (1-2-2).
The Philippine delegation, supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), ranked fifth among Southeast Asian countries in this tough event for athletes aged 14 to 17 years.
“Definitely we can still do better. The talent is there. In as much as Southeast Asia is concerned, we could have improved our performance if not for those heart-breaking losses,” Padilla pointed out.
“But with two gold medals here you cannot ask for more. First of all our athletes dished out their best, not only those who won medals but even those who did not,” Padilla added.
The Filipino athletes also competed in athletics, badminton, basketball, fencing, judo, weightlifting, rugby, swimming, table tennis, and shooting.
“The way our athletes carried themselves here in and out of the village you will be proud to be a Filipino. The Filipinos are the ones who gained the most number of friends here. That in itself is a victory,” said the country’s chef-de-mission.
Padilla, who was only 12 when he won the gold medal in the World Junior Shooting Championships in 1976 in Mexico, said the athletes who competed here deserve to be in the national pool.
But he said it’s not for him to recommend.
“It doesn’t have to come from me. The way they performed here they deserve to be in the pool. The NSAs (national sports associations) must do it themselves. Pero karapat-dapat sila,” said Padilla.
“We should be proud of them. I thank all of them and even their parents for the hardships. It’s not easy to win a gold medal here or a medal,” the chef-de-mission added.