MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino on Thursday expressed his gratitude to the organizing committee of the 2021 Vietnam Southeast Asian Games including four more sports in their program.
Jiu jitsu, triathlon, and esports -- which the Philippines mined for several gold medals in the 2019 SEA Games -- together with bowling will be part of the 40 sports calendared for next year's Games.
"I am grateful to the Vietnam Organizing Committee for approving our request for the inclusion of these four sports," Tolentino said in a statement.
Jiu jitsu, triathlon, and esports produced 11 medals for the Philippines in 2019, including 5, 3 and 3 gold medals, in the respective sports.
Team Philippines dominated the recent SEA Games, winning a country record 149 gold medals to secure the overall championship.
The four sports were approved in a recent online meeting. A report from Vietnam noted that triathlon, in particular, has been rising in popularity in the region.
Tolentino said the POC still lobbying Vietnam organizers to include two more sports that produced several medals for the country last year.
"By God's grace, perhaps sambo and skateboarding will be in next year's SEA Games," he said.
Filipino athletes won two golds in sambo and six in skateboarding, with Asian Games gold medalist Margielyn Didal leading the charge.
The 2021 SEA Games are scheduled for November 21 to December 2 in Hanoi.
While the Philippines is determined to defend its overall championship, Tolentino acknowledged that Filipino athletes will face a tough challenge from their Vietnamese hosts. Vietnam placed second in 2019, with 98 gold medals
"We have high hopes for them," Tolentino said of the 2021 hosts. "They did well in the last SEA Games here in Manila."