While the country’s top bets have yet to start serious training, the crack athletes of the perennial contenders in the Southeast Asian Games are already honing their skills overseas.
Commissioner Jolly Gomez said the Philippine Sports Commission has received word that Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and even Singapore have started their preparation for the SEA Games in Myanmar slated November next year.
According to reports, athletes from defending overall champion Indonesia and perennial contender Thailand are now training in Europe while Vietnamese athletes have been sent to different training sites in China.
Singapore, which finished ahead of the Philippines at fifth overall during the 2011 games in Indonesia, has sent its athletes in world-class training centers in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Unlike their SEA Games rivals, most Filipino athletes will hone their skills at home while some are bound for Iran and China, Gomez said. Their training begins in earnest only midway next month.
“We’re one of the few countries whose majority of players will be training locally,” said Gomez. “But for those who will be training abroad, we’ll make sure that there will be a bigger elbow room to extend their stay. We have increased our budget and we hope it will translate to a resounding victory in the SEA Games.”
PSC Chair Richie Garcia said the agency is targeting at least 60 to 70 gold medals in Myanmar to have a fighting chance at fourth or even third overall.
The Philippines placed sixth overall among 11 countries in 2011 Indonesia with 36 gold, 56 silver and 77 bronze medals.