After Asian Games, Philippines aiming for top 3 in 2019 SEA Games

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 01 2018 11:23 PM | Updated as of Sep 02 2018 02:44 AM

Darren Whiteside, Reuters

JAKARTA—Expectations for Team Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games next year should be higher now, following a strong showing in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang.

After producing just one gold medal in Incheon, South Korea four years ago, the Philippines will go home with four gold medals from Indonesia — all courtesy of Filipina athletes. The Filipino athletes also had two silvers and 15 bronzes, for a 19th place finish.

“We have a beautiful performance (here),” said chef-de-mission Richard Gomez a few days ago, after skateboarder Margielyn Didal claimed the country’s fourth gold of the Games.

“Dapat, prelude na ito ng SEA Games, so kailangan talaga, suportahan tayo ng PSC (Philippine Sports Commission).”

For Gomez, the Filipino athletes’ performance in the Asian Games should increase expectations for them next year, especially with the country set to host the SEA Games.

“No less than No. 3,” Gomez had said. “Dapat, ganoon ang tingin natin.”

The Philippines’s performances in the biennial tournament has steadily dropped since the country’s last hosting in 2005, when the hosts won 113 gold medals to top the table. Last year in Kuala Lumpur, Filipino athletes managed 23 gold medals — far fewer than the 50 mints that sports officials had predicted ahead of the SEA Games.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Ricky Vargas admitted that to aim for the top spot next year will be “very difficult.” After all, the national team still trailed its Southeast Asian neighbors in the Games here.

Host country Indonesia, with a haul of 31-24-43 (gold-silver-bronze) ranked fourth overall, Thailand (11-16-46) placed 12th, Malaysia (7-12-16) finished at 14th, Vietnam (4-16-18) took 17th, and Singapore (4-4-14) finished in 18th place.

“Tingnan mo ang performance ng Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand,” said Vargas. “They are all above and ahead of us in the SEA Games.”

“Mahihirapan tayo, but we will aim for top 3,” he also said.

Vargas said it will depend on the sports that will be put in the SEA Games program. The organizing committee announced an initial list of 30 sports earlier this year, but more events can be added.

"’Yung lahat ng events ng pencak silat, ipasok natin, 14 golds. Ilagay mo din arnis, boxing, taekwondo, bowling,” he said. 

In a previous interview, Vargas also stressed that the Philippines needs to perform better in athletics and aquatics, which are medal-rich events.

“There’s also a lot of gold in pencak silat . . . So there are areas where we an get golds, and if we do it properly, we’ll be able to get gold,” he said.

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