AMID reports that the Philippines plans to send only a token delegation to the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar, a top Filipino solon has urged the country’s sports officials to tap only potential gold medal winners for the December 11 to 22 biennial meet.
“We should just send athletes who can win the gold in the SEA Games,” said San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito Estrada, backing an earlier suggestion of the Philippine Sports Commission to send elite athletes to Myanmar in light of the host’s move to include several non-Olympic sports in the SEA Games calendar of events.
The Myanmar SEA Games Organizing Committee has calendared a total of 444 events to be disputed in the meet. Noticeably absent are those where the country has a strong chance at winning gold medals.
The Filipinos won 36 gold medals for sixth place in the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia, but 20 of those events have been scrapped from the calendar by Myanmar organizers.
Among those excluded were water polo, badminton, gymnastics, table tennis, and lawn tennis, while added are indigenous events like vovinam, tarungderajat, kempo, and chin lone.
Since Filipinos are not familiar with such indigenous sports, Ejercito Estrada has urged the country’s sports leaders to just focus on sending entries in sports where we can be competitive.
“With that, we’ll not only help Filipino athletes gain international experience, but at the same time, prepare him or her in the country’s ultimate goal of winning a medal, most especially gold, in the Olympics,” said Ejercito Estrada, who has a passion for sports like basketball, boxing, and golf.
But winning entails a lot of factors including proper training, preparation, exposure, and the solid backing of the government, according to the 43-year-old son of former President Estrada.
A member of the Youth and Sports Committee in the House of Representatives, Ejercito Estrada said sports leaders should also solidify the country's grassroots programs in the continuing effort to develop world-class athletes.
“If our grassroots program is solid, we’ll surely develop athletes who can make us proud,” he said.