MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William "Butch" Ramirez on Tuesday expressed his satisfaction at the country's performance in the 31st Southeast Asian Games, where the Philippines finished fourth in the medal table.
Ramirez stressed that the fourth-place finish was nothing to be ashamed of, especially in light of the challenges that Filipino athletes faced in the build-up to the biennial event in Hanoi, Vietnam.
"Our performance in bringing home 52 gold, 70 silver, and 104 bronze medals in placing fourth overall in the medal standings was a good finish despite the various challenges our national athletes had to face amid the COVID-19 pandemic before competing in Vietnam," said Ramirez in a statement.
"It would have been a very good finish had we converted 50 percent of our silvers (to gold) and bronzes (to silver)," he acknowledged.
Team Philippines contended early on for third place, but fell behind against Thailand and Indonesia.
The host nation ran away with the overall championship, as Vietnam secured a whopping haul of 205 gold medals along with 125 silvers and 116 bronzes.
Thailand was a distant second (92-103-136), and Indonesia finished third (69-91-81).
The 31st SEA Games also marked the end of the Philippines' dominance in men's basketball, with Gilas Pilipinas getting dethroned by Indonesia.
Despite the disappointment of losing the men's basketball gold, Filipino sports officials were still relatively pleased with the country's performance. Aside from Ramirez, chef de mission Ramon Fernandez also praised the Filipino athletes, noting that this was the country's best finish in a SEA Games held outside of the Philippines since 1983.
Ramirez, who oversaw the country's successful campaign in the 2019 SEA Games at home, continues to stress the need for a long-term program and sufficient funding in order to produce more sporting heroes.
"You need money for coaches, both local and foreign, airfare, transportation and hotel for international exposure to season them, plus the logistical support like proper nutrition, sports psychology, and medicine for athletes discovered abroad or locally," he said.
He pointed to weightlifting icon Hidilyn Diaz, who won a second SEA Games gold in Hanoi, as an example of what can be achieved with a long-term program and proper investment. Diaz was 17 when she made her Olympic debut in Beijing as a wild card entry, won silver in her third Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, then delivered the country's first ever gold medal in Tokyo last year.
At the same time, Ramirez renewed his commitment and support "to our private partners, the Philippine Olympic Committee and the National Sports Association," in promoting and nurturing athletes for international play.