NAY PYI TAW – Archand Christian Bagsit came so close in his Southeast Asian Games debut.
A Philippine athletics official believe the 400-meter specialist now has what it takes to make it all the way to the winner’s podium in the Games’ 27th edition at the Wunna Theikdi Stadium.
“Malaki na in-improve ni Bagsit since Indonesia,” said Philippine athletics team leader Luisito Arciaga on the eve of the sport’s kickoff Sunday.
“Ngayon isa siya sa mga pinakamalaki ang tsansa dito at kung may halong nerbiyos iyung first time niya, ngayon wala na.”
Bagsit, then only 20, lost the 400m gold to Heru Astriyanto with a clocking of 47.71s to the Indonesian’s 47.53.
It will not just be about Bagsit, however.
Filipinos are also taking part in the men’s long jump and hammer throw, women’s pole vault, as well as the first four events of heptathlon.
Trying their luck first are long jumper Henry Dagmil and hammer thrower Arniel Ferrera, who are trying to improve on their silver medal finish two years ago, as well as Benigno Marayag in the long jump, lady pole vaulter Riezel Buenaventura and heptathlete Narcisa Atienza.
Edgardo Alejan is also entered in the 400m like Bagsit, and if they survive the morning heats they proceed to the afternoon finals.
Getting just two gold medals for the day would be good enough for Arciaga. “Ang gusto lang naman namin magandang buwena mano para lalong ganahan ang mga bata,” he said.
Arciaga himself added his team is gunning for six golds, saying they have enough materials to reach that goal.
“Bukod kay Bagsit mayroon din naman tayo sa middle distance, jumpers and relays,” said Arciaga. “At mayroon din tayong Fil-Ams na magagaling sa kanilang sa kani-kanilang events.”
He specifically referred to the likes of hurdler Eric Shauwn Cray, 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechaser Jessica Barnard and high jumper Tyler Ruiz.
“Si Eric lang, pinakamaganda sa buong South East Asia in terms of 2013 performance, kasi he’s clocking around 51:30 in the 400m low (hurdles),” Arciaga pointed out.
The gold-winning clocking in the last SEAG was 51.45s.