MANILA, Philippines - A gold medal in the recent Myanmar SEA Games is not a sure ticket to the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea in September.
The Asian Games is a different level and in some if not most events the competition is in the Olympic level.
Winning the gold in the SEA Games doesn’t mean an athlete can even come close to the bronze in the Asian Games, especially in measurable sports.
“But the SEA Games in Myanmar will be a very important factor in the selection of the Asian Games team,” said Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia.
The PSC and the Philippine Olympic Committee used strict criteria for last month’s SEA Games, resulting in a very limited contingent of around 210 athletes.
The Philippines used to send over 500 athletes to the SEA Games but this time officials thought the country can win just as many medals fielding less athletes.
The PSC said it saved a lot of money by reducing the size of the delegation.
The Philippines won 29 gold, 34 silver and 38 bronze medals to rank seventh among 11 countries in Myanmar.
“If we were strict for the SEA Games we may even be stricter in the Asian Games,” said Garcia who will serve as chef-de-mission of the Philippine Team to Incheon.
In the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, the Philippines fielded 188 athletes in 29 sports, and brought home a total of 16 medals – three golds, four silvers and nine bronzes.
The Philippines ranked 17th among 45 countries in the last Asian Games, and the PSC as well as the POC may decide that it can do as well or even better with less athletes.
In Guangzhou, the Philippines won gold medals in boxing, bowling and billiards; and silver medals in boxing, billiards, golf and chess.
Other sports that delivered the bronze were dancesport, wushu and taekwondo.
Behind its memorable runner-up finish to Iran in the 2013 FIBA Asia Basketball Championship, the Gilas Pilipinas squad is considered among the favorites in this year’s Asian Games.
Garcia said work will soon begin regarding the Asian Games preparations.
“First thing we have to do sit down with the POC, organize a secretariat, form the screening committee and task force and come up with the criteria,” he said.
“To make it to the team our athletes, both in the team and individual events, must show that they can win medals,” Garcia added.
This year’s Asian Games is not going to be a picnic.