SEA Games debacle looms
KUALA LUMPUR—As things stand, Team Philippines won’t be able to match the 29 gold medals it won in the previous two Southeast Asian Games.
Let alone reach the 50-gold medal goal.
With just one gold and two silvers amassed Monday, the Nationals will be looking at two taekwondo jins, pencak silat and the men’s squash team to cash in on Tuesday.
That’s unless unheralded athletes in badminton, equestrian, muay, ice skating/track speed skating, sailing, sepak takraw and water ski/wakeboard can pull off a stunning triumph in the face of formidable oppositions.
Just like what 46-year-old Florida-based John Colin Syquia did Monday.
Syquia rocked the equestrian competition as he ran away with the gold medal in individual show jumping right on his first SEA Games stint.
That despite the fact that his mount, Adventure L, had to travel 36 hours across four countries to make it here.
Another novice, 20-year-old Rhezzie Aragon settled for silver after dropping a decision to an Indonesian opponent in women’s taekwondo bantamweight (-53 kg) final.
World champion Geylord Coveta failed to deliver the gold expected of him in sailing men’s windsurfing RS One in Langkawi.
Thai Asian champion Natthapong Phonopratt scored an upset over the Filipino who in 2012 won the World Championships in Boracay. Malaysia’s Illham Wahab took the bronze.
Despite the looming debacle, Philippine chief of mission Cynthia Carrion remained upbeat.
“I’m still very proud of the Filipino athletes, they are in an up mood, never in the down mood,” said Carrion.
The country, most likely to stay in sixth place in the 11-nation event, has 23 gold medals, 30 silvers and 57 bronzes with only two days of action left.
On Wednesday, there will only be one event for the Philippines, speed skating, where Kathryn Magno is gunning for the contingent’s final gold.
Dennis Dumaan and Cherry Mae Regalado will see action on Tuesday in the pencak silat finals of the 45kg-50kg division and semi-artistry events, respectively.
Robert Andrew Garcia and Juan Rafael Yan also made the finals after stunning the Malaysians, 2-0, in the semifinals of men’s team squash.
Olympian Kirstie Elaine Alora and Francis Aaron Agojo are also top favorites in taekwondo on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Philippine officials have yet to agree on whether they will put up a cultural show or not for Wednesday’s closing ceremony.
Philippines Olympic Committee officials didn’t agree with the planned 30-minute presentation ushering in the country’s hosting of the next edition of the games in 2019.
Carrion said there ought to be a presentation of “a respectable cultural show that will make every Filipino proud.”
Eighty three performers and production crew were tapped for the show that would be funded by the Department of Tourism to the tune of P8.1 million.
Carrion said that she and the DOT “believed that the SEA Games venue is our best chance to once again stamp an image to the world—that the Philippines is indeed world class.”
But the POC board, in which Carrion is also a member, did not approve of the contract forged by her and the DOT.
Big stars like singer Freddie Aguilar and dance group Gamma Penumbra were reportedly tapped to perform in the closing ceremony.