NATIONAL Sports Association officials yesterday promised Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez that their athletes would go all-out in the country’s drive to regain the overall crown in the 30th Southeast Asian Games opening on Nov. 30 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The NSA officials made their pledge to Ramirez, the chief of mission of Team Philippines, during a well-attended meeting at the Century Park Sheraton where they gave their medal forecasts.
“It was a well-attended meeting and the NSA officials present gave their assessment of what their athletes could deliver in terms of medals,” said deputy chief of mission Stephen Fernandez who, however, declined to reveal what these projections were because he was not authorized to do so. “I believe we had about 95 percent attendance among the NSAs represented.”
With the PSC spending P1 billion in the build-up of the athletes for the SEA Games, Ramirez has insisted on a “return of investment” for their intensive training and international exposure, stressing they should aim for nothing less than being No. 1 once again.
The PSC chief has strongly hinted of a major overhaul in the national pool of athletes if they fail to deliver.
Filipino campaigners, who made their SEA Games debut in 1977, achieved a breakthrough in the country’s third hosting of the regional sports conclave in 2005, capturing overall honors for the first time with a haul of 113 gold, 84 silver and 94 bronze medals.
But the country reached an all-time low in the meet in the 2017 edition in Malaysia, with Pinoy bets winding up sixth overall with a meager collection of 23 gold, 34 silver and 63 bronze medals.
With new sports such qurash, sambo, kick boxing, skateboarding and obstacle course racing included in the calendar, Ramirez has been bullish about regaining the overall title, although he also acknowledged that countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam would give the hosts a big run for their money.
Philippine Olympic Committee first vice president Joey Romasanta, the volleyball chief who was present during the meeting, thanked Ramirez for conducting the meeting where the remaining concerns of the NSAs about their equipment and venues were addressed.
He also reminded everyone that taking back the overall championship was possible only “if we work as one,” noting the apparent lack of coordination between the NSAs and some personnel in the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee, resulting in issues between the two parties.
“If we work as one, winning as one follows,” he said.
Asked about the chances of the national men’s and women’s volleyball teams, Romasanta said: “The women’s squad showed that it could a win a (bronze) medal in the last Asean Grand Prix. And the men’s team currently is training in Japan. I would be happy if both reach a podium finish.”
Someone unafraid of making a fearless forecast for his sport is POC treasurer Julian Camacho, the wushu association secretary general.
“Wushu is looking at a high of eight or nine golds and a low of six,” said Camacho, citing taolu (forms) exponents Daniel Parantac and Agatha Kyrztenzen Wong among those expected to deliver mints.
Parantac and Wong are tipped to rule in the pair of events they are entered in taolu, he added.
On the conservative side, POC auditor Jonne Go, who heads the canoe-kayak and dragon boat association, said she would be happy if her dragon boat paddlers could surpass the lone gold the country won in the 2011 Indonesia Games.
“Given the hard training our paddlers hard, we are looking forward to surpassing the solitary gold we won in the 2011 SEA Games,” said Go, whose charges recently competed in the ICF Dragon Boat World Cup in Ningbo, China.