OVERSEAS training and competition are the keys to the country’s bid to rebound from a sixth place overall finish in the Southeast Asian Games.
Fourth or fifth place overall in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games is possible, according to Tom Carrasco, chairman of the joint Philippine Olympic Committee-Philippine Sports Commission 29th Southeast Asian Games Task Force, especially with the experience gained in training and participating in international events.
“Yeah, indeed, we are in a position to at least end up fifth, if not fourth overall in this year’s SEA Games, Carrasco, who also heads the Triathlon Association of the Philippines, told Spin.ph last week.
POC-appointed chef de mission Cynthia Carrion last week said the 498-athlete national contingent can produce 50 gold medals.
“Never mind if that we had already lost at least four gold medals won the last time the Games were held in Singapore in 2015,” Carrasco said, referring to the scrapping of women’s boxing and weightlifting as well as men’s and women’s softball in this year’s calendar of events.
“Our athletes returned home with 29 gold medals and 36 silver medals two years ago. Granting nawalan na tayo ng six or seven gold for whatever reasons, still we can offset that by trying to translate some of our silver medal winnings to gold,” he said.
“And with the way our athletes are being made to prepare since the last Games, Kayang gawin yun. I have no doubt really that our athletes will be better prepared for this year’s edition in Kuala Lumpur,” Carrasco assured.
“Remember that immediately after the Singapore Games, and even before that, many of our athletes, had, at one time or another, plunged into action in their efforts to qualify in their respective sports for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games,” Carrasco recalled.
“Of course only a handful made it to Rio, but imagine the experience the athletes gained competing against the best in the world in those Olympic qualifying competitions they took part in. Malaking bagay yun in achieving world-class competitiveness,” he noted. “Hopefully, na-maintain nila yun.”
“Bukod dito, many of the athletes, through the help of the PSC, have been sent to compete or train overseas, this time, to get them ready for the Malaysia Games August 19-30,” he continued.
“In fact, many of our 498-athlete national contingent are still abroad taking part or training in the different parts of the world precisely as part of their build up programs for the SEA Games,” he said.
“Our triathletes, for example, are presently either in Australia, Portugal, Thailand or Indonesia for that purpose.”
According to Junjun Fortaleza, head of the PSC’s NSA affairs group, members of the national water polo team are currently in Barcelona, swimming in the US, sepak takraw in Myanmar, gymnastics and judo in Japan, squash in New Zealand, athletics in Hong Kong, volleyball in Japan and South Korea, while members of the Philippine boxing and muay thai squads are also training abroad.