JUST days after the Philippines posted its worst finish in the Asian Games in 24 years, local officials started training their sights Southeast Asian Games and set a lofty goal of as high as third place.
"Hindi na puwede 'yung sixth or seventh tayo sa SEA Games," said Philippine Sports Commission chairman Ritchie Garcia, displeased with the country’s medal haul in Incheon that left the Philippines in 22nd place overall and seventh among Southeast Asian nations after winning just one gold, three silvers, and 11 bronze medals.
The Philippines’ medal tally in Incheon was the worst since the 1990 Beijing Asiad where the country had a 1-2-7 haul - a downturn officials now hope to reverse in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.
“The biggest challenge that we have is the Southeast Asian Games. We will push for a better performance. Ang focus natin is at least number three or number four tayo,” said Garcia in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
Garcia spoke a day after Malacañang aired its displeasure over the country’s performance in the Asiad where the Philippines was behind Thailand (12-7-28), Malaysia (5-14-14), Singapore (5-6-13), Indoneisa (4-5-11), Myanmar (2-1-1), and Vietnam (1-10-25) in the medal tally.
The Asiad tally of the Philippines also mirrored the placing of the country in last year’s SEA Games in Myanmar where they had its worst finish since participating in the regional event in 1977.
Garcia said he is looking to evaluate the priority program, which contain sports tapped as as the major source of medals in campaigns overseas and therefore receive the bulk of the PSC funds.
Sports on the PSC's priority list include boxing, taekwondo, archery, athletics, wushu, swimming, archery, wrestling, bowling, and billiards although swimming has been recently removed.
“We have only eight months left. Hindi pa ’yun too late. If we can implement some programs in the next month, I think we can still develop the athletes and make them potential medalists sa SEA Games,” said Garcia.
“The President is disappointed as well as we are also disappointed. Lahat tayo disappointed,” said Garcia.
Garcia reiterated it is high time for local sports officials to get their acts together in order and aim for a good finish in next year’s SEA Games in Singapore.
“We can’t accept this na ganito lang tayo. The coaches will have to push their athletes and the NSAs should be man enough to accept kung ano ’yung nakuha natin,” said Garcia.