National dailies report that the National Sports Associations (NSAs) have predicted a winning haul of 220 gold medals this coming SouthEast Asian (SEA) Games. It is a bold, outrageous projection that baffles me, considering that in the last SEA Games, the Philippines had landed a dismal 6th with a haul of only 24 golds, 33 silvers and 64 bronzes. How in heaven’s name do we pole-vault from 24 golds to 220 – and from 6th place to 1st – is just too mind-boggling for me to comprehend.
This fearless forecast came out during the coordination meeting of the NSAs with Team Philippines chef de mission and Philippine Sports Commission Chair William “Butch” Ramirez.
Of course, the fact that we have homecourt advantage will be a big factor. The last time we hosted this event in 2005, we had won the overall championship with 113 golds, with the Thais coming in a distant second with 87 golds. It is a known fact that in the SEA Games, host countries have been notorious in focusing on games where they are strong in; at times even inserting native games which are totally alien to the visiting countries. Hence, the brilliant showing of the host nations is expected.
But to have an eventual haul of 220 golds is just preposterous. I simply cannot understand how our NSAs can boast of such figures considering their recent results. How on earth do we suddenly find native talents who can zoom up from being virtual no-namers to being champions in a span of 2 years? We are simply setting ourselves up to lose by putting up such high expectations on our athletes.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino tempered their statements, saying: “I think winning 130 to 180 gold medals is doable.” The 220 golds predicted by the NSA leaders collectively have never been achieved by Team Philippines in the Games. For that matter, it has never been achieved by any country EVER before in the SEA Games. The highest gold medal tally so far recorded has been the 182 gold haul by the Indonesians when they hosted the Games in 2011. I believe that even a 130-gold booty will be a stretch. I’d go more conservative with a lower figure, at 70-90 golds, with a 2nd-3rd place finish a worthy achievement already.
The contact sports are expected to bring in majority of the haul with arnis predicting at least 15 golds out of 20 events; while our fighters from wrestling, judo, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu and sambo have expressed that they can contribute at least five victories each. Boxing has been a perennial multiple-gold performer as well, and so with wushu and taekwondo.
Other expected medal producers include dancesports, athletics, gymnastics and skateboarding. Still, the projected 220-medal gold rush is a pipe dream. If accomplished, it may not only elicit expressions of pleasant surprise, it may just subject the SEA Games to charges of rigging and the like. Eventually, it may just serve to cast serious doubts on the integrity of the Games.
I have remained silent over the preparations for the SEA Games in the hope that our athletes may not be subjected to undue distractions. Suffice it to say that I am rooting for our athletes, despite the many problems I have witnessed with Philippine Sports. Reform Philippine Sports stands committed in support of the country’s efforts to host and compete in the incoming SEA Games.
The sports extravaganza will be from 30 November to 11 December, and is scheduled in venues across Metro Manila and Southern Luzon, Subic and New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. A total of 1,115 Filipino athletes are expected to see action in 56 sports, with 530 events to be contested.
May I invite everybody to show support for Team Philippines by coming to the venues and watching the Games? I also wish to encourage those who will be watching to bring along their kids. This is a golden opportunity, not just to bond, but to be able to spread the gospel of Nationalism, Teamwork and Pride in our country and people. Let’s join hands and Win as One.
(Cover photo by: SEA Games Philippines. Other pics courtesy of: News in the Philippines, BCDA, Sports Betting Philippines, Multisport.ph, Manila bulletin Sports, Spin.ph, Fox Sports, BusinessWorld, Rappler, UNTV, Twitter, ABS-CBN, PhilStar. For a closer look, just click on the pics.)