Why track, swim bets in the SEA Games failed | Inquirer Sports

Why track, swim bets in the SEA Games failed

/ 09:30 PM November 18, 2011

ose Gonzales of the Philippines jumps to startt he men's freestyle swimming competition in the 26th Southeast Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia. Photo by Romy Homillada

MANILA, Philippines—I take full responsibility.

That was the gist of the statement given by Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association president Go Teng Kok after his vaunted athletes suffered heavy losses in the ongoing 26th Southeast Asian Games.

Instead of concentrating on the welfare of his athletes, Go said he was sidetracked by politics and engaged officials of the Philippine Olympic Committee in court battles.

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The youngsters among the 22 athletes the Patafa fielded in Indonesia were not ready for battle, and the old ones were mostly unfit, he explained.

Only Marestella Torres (long jump) and Rene Herrera (3,000-meter steeplechase) plucked gold medals as the Philippines posted a measly 2-9-5 gold-silver-bronze tally in athletics, where 45 golds were up for grabs.

“There’s a transition of athletes, [involving] the young and the old,” said Go. “But… I take the blame because I didn’t give them my 100 percent [attention]. I got distracted by my quarrels with the POC.”

Go was declared persona non grata and later expelled by the local Olympic body after he filed temporary restraining orders against POC officials over the leadership dispute in the Philippine Karatedo Federation.

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Meanwhile, Philippine Aquatics Sports Association president Mark Joseph said he is certain this is not the first time the country’s swimmers went home empty handed from the SEA Games.

Joseph said the gold drought also happened either in 2001 or 2003, and that the recent poor medal harvest, where Filipino swimmers managed only two silvers and five bronzes, is nothing new. Thirty-eight golds were disputed in swimming.

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“Not the first time; I think it [also] happened in ’03,” said Joseph.

He also said the departure of Miguel Molina and the lack of gold-medal potentials from among the new members of the team contributed to the shutout.

Molina, who won a total of 11 gold medals in the biennial Games, retired early this year to pursue a college degree.

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“We will intensify our search for new talents, there are many [foreigners with Filipino blood] in the wings,” Joseph said.

TAGS: 26th Southeast Asian Games, Go Teng Kok, Marestella Torres, Mark Joseph, Patafa, Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association, Philippine Karatedo Federation, Philippine Olympic Committee, POC, Rene Herrera, Sports

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