Patafa goal: Surpass 1983 SEAG team
The Philippine track and field team is dreaming big and is looking to surpass its best performance in the Southeast Asian Games when it hosts the biennial meet next year.
According to athletics chief Philip Ella Juico, the current crop of talents in the squad is capable of resetting the 11-gold medal record collection of Filipino tracksters during the 1983 Games in Singapore.
It would be a tall order considering that the feat done 35 years ago was accomplished by some of the greatest Filipino track and field stars, led by former Asia sprint queen Lydia de Vega.
“We can do it, provided that all the ingredients for holistic athlete development are there,” said Juico, president of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa).
The former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chair enumerated that adequate facilities, selective exposure, sensible and updated training and coaching methods—apart from strength and conditioning and proper nutrition—are some of the key ingredients to achieve the goal.
Juico also pointed out that the backing of the government and private support are crucial to provide the tracksters with decent and livable quarters, functional equipment, appropriate competition and training gear plus the help of the media.
“Everything was made available when the 11 gold medals were achieved,” said Juico.
Track heroes abound during those days under the Michael Keon-led Project Gintong Alay, where the Marcos administration threw its full support behind national athletes to succeed in the international scene.
Joining De Vega back then were hurdlers Renato Unso and Agrippina Dela Cruz, steeplechaser Hector Begeo, long jumper Elma Muros and thrower Erlinda Lavandia, among others.
With sprinter Trentam Beram, hurdler Eric Cray, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, decathlete Aries Toledo and marathoner Mary Joy Tabal leading the cast, Juico is confident they will have a good shot at surpassing the 1983 record.