MANILA, Philippines - If they give their best, there’s no limit to what the Filipino athletes can achieve in the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea in September.
“I can’t say if we can win 10 gold medals or four or eight. We’re just asking our athletes to give their best,” said Richie Garcia, the chef-de-mission of the Philippine delegation yesterday.
“If they give their best, the medals will come. In the last Asian Games in 2010, we won three gold medals. I hope we can win more this time,” said Garcia.
The chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission is seriously hoping that the country can surpass the haul of four gold medals in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.
“Ibigay niyo na lahat ng kaya niyo ( Give it your best),” he urged the athletes during the PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
As chef-de-mission, Garcia is making sure the Filipino athletes will be in tip-top shape as they vie in 25 of the 36 sports offering a total of 439 gold medals.
The Philippines will field no more than 248 athletes to be accompanied by 54 officials. Garcia will forward the list to Incheon today, the deadline for entries by number.
The deadline for the submission of entries by names is on Aug. 15, and by that time, the list may even go down to less than 200 athletes.
The Philippines will field entries in aquatics (80), archery (8), athletics (9), baseball (15), basketball (12), bowling (12), boxing (9), canoe-kayak (1), cycling (5), equestrian (3), fencing (2), golf (7), gymnastics (1), judo (4), karate (6), rowing (5), rugby 7s (12), sailing (4), shooting (8), taekwondo (12), lawn tennis (6), soft tennis (3), triathlon (8), weightlifting (2), wrestling (7) and wushu (6).
Since there’s no limit to the entry by numbers, aquatics sought 80 slots even if it may end up with just a handful bets.
Garcia said the PSC has allocated P30 million for the event itself. It will cover the airfare, board and lodging, allowances and the other needs of the entire delegation.
But the government’s funding arm in sports has prepared another P50 million as supplemental budget, to be used solely for overseas training or the hiring of foreign coaches.
While others have availed of the supplemental budget, others have opted to train in the country under local coaches.
“If they want to send athletes overseas or bring a foreign coach here they can do it. They still have three months. But I cannot force them to do that,” said Garcia.
Still, the chef-de-mission said the PSC has done everything to help the athletes as they prepare for the quadrennial event.
“Logistics-wise, we are better than before. I’m not saying our athletes are more prepared but better supported,” he said.
The past six months, the Asian Games task force composed of officials of the Philippine Olympic Committee and the PSC have monitored the candidates.
“Tomorrow I will ask the PCSM (Philippine Center for Sports Medicine) for an update and know if our athletes are in good shape or now or if any of them have complained of any injuries.
“With that we will know if they are 100 percent ready or just 85 percent or 90 percent. We want to address it now. Otherwise, they shouldn’t go,” said Garcia.