Reality check main event in 2021 SEAG
There will be a grand reception for the Philippines when it defends its overall championship in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games. But, like it or not, there will be no celebration, or anything close to what the Philippine contingent experienced, in the successful hosting of the 30th SEA Games last December.
To repeat, it would be next to impossible retaining the overall championship when the Philippines defends the very expensive honor in the 2021 edition of the regional biennial Games in Vietnam.
While the Philippines had a trouble-free soar to the top in the 30th SEA Games celebrated here at home, there will be no joy ride for Filipino athletes who practically had a party in securing the championship to the deafening delight of overwhelmed home fans.
The main goal in the 2021 Vietnam Games will not—cannot—be the summit.
In fact, Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino, among the chief architects of the Manila Magic, declared ahead of the New Year that the overall crown was as good as gone
the moment the flag for the hosting was handed to Vietnam during the closing rites of the last SEA Games at New Clark City.
“It’s hard to imagine how to retain the SEA Games crown away from home,” Tolentino said.
The summit will be unreachable once competitions in the biennial regional Games shift to Vietnam.
By now, there’s a growing consensus that, inasmuch as the Philippines cannot hope to repeat its super soar in the 2021 Vietnam Games, the country should at least shoot for third overall finish.
That could seem manageable, but it will all depend on what will be done after all the shrieking success in the Manila hosting.
What stares top national sports officials in the eye is the horrendous slip the Philippines suffered after it dropped all the way to sixth overall in the 2007 Thailand SEA Games, two years after the Philippines topped the regional sports supremacy test in the 2005 national hosting.
There’s no escaping the fact that Vietnam, which finished second overall with 98 gold medals last month, will promptly ramp up its campaign to reign supreme. Then there will be perennial powerhouse Thailand, which collected 92 gold medals for third overall, to crowd Vietnam for top honors.
The best that the Philippines can do for the Vietnam Games is to stay competitive. This is the prevailing sentiment, mainly among national team coaches.
Preparations must be set off early, if they have to sustain the gains attained in the 2019 hosting.
At least, there’s the momentum, together with new modern facilities and, hopefully, more funds for the 2021 campaign.
Based on past records, the Philippines will be in for a harsh reality check in the 2021 Vietnam SEA Games.
A simple third overall will not suffice; otherwise all the achievements in Manila 2019 would all look home-cooked or half-baked.
By third overall, it should be a hard, fighting third best.
Of course, a runner-up achievement should help confirm that Philippine sports, despite all the hoopla, the cash register magic, has honestly started to come on its own.