IT will be a tough climb for the Philippines on the Southeast Asian Games standings as Myanmar and Laos also look to move up the ranks in the 27th staging of the games this year.
Sixth overall in the 2011 meet after a fifth-place finish in 2009, Filipino athletes are hoping to improve this time, but the battle in the bottom half of the 11 nation meet is starting to get even tighter.
Team Philippines chef de mission Jeff Tamayo bared Myanmar and Laos have expressed their intentions to overtake the Philippines in the medal standing this year when the Burmese capital of Naypyidaw as well as the cities of Yangoon and Mandalay host the biennial meet.
The Philippines won 36 gold medals in 2011 with Myanmar and host Laos next with 16 and nine respectively.
According to Tamayo, Myanmar bared in a recent meeting among Chefs de Mission that the host country is aiming to not just dislodge the Philippines but even take second place in the medal tally.
Meanwhile, Laos is sending a delegation that is bigger than the projected 200 athletes by the Philippines in hopes of dislodging the once-powerhouse country in the SEA Games.
The Philippines looks set to send the third smallest delegation among the 11 countries in the SEA Games after Brunei and Timor Leste.
“Laos is right there behind our backs while Myanmar seems to be aiming for number two or three,” said Tamayo during Thursday’s radio program of the Philippine Olympic Committee on DZSR Sports Radio 918.
Myanmar and Laos are also said to be focusing on medal-rich subjective sports, which could affect the Philippine campaign.
“Halos lahat, naka-orient sa subjective martial arts events like wushu, karate, and taekwondo. Maraming medalya doon.
“We are not doing well sa swimming unlike other countries na naka-focus sila sa Olympic sports whether athletics or shooting. Tayo umaasa tayo sa subjective sports,” said Tamayo.
The Philippines is sending a lean delegation to the Games with only “potential gold winners” seeing action.
The decision of Philippine sports leaders to send a minimal team is part of a “protest” after the host country inserted subjective, non-traditional sports in the calendar and scrapped several events where Filipinos have higher chances of winning.