Uphill battle in Hanoi for Team PH
By just the figures, Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino knows that hanging onto the overall title in the coming 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, will be an uphill battle with Team PH sending close to just half of the athletes that triumphed in 2019 at home.
A total of 656 athletes from 39 sports will comprise the Philippine delegation this time with a March 12 deadline for the names of those athletes approaching.
“Comparing the numbers when we hosted the Games in 2019, we’ll have a delegation that’s slashed almost in half from three years ago,’’ said Tolentino. “And a quick look at the numbers show we’ll be hard-pressed to repeat as overall champions.’’
Team Philippines, represented by 1,115 bets from 56 sports, amassed 149 gold medals, 117 silvers and 121 bronzes in 2019 for the overall title.
“But I’m confident that we will have a fighting team in Vietnam, setting aside the difficulties of training and competing because of the pandemic,’’ said Tolentino.
Only athletics, men’s 3×3 and 5×5 basketball, weightlifting and jiujitsu are still finalizing their respective lineups.
The entire sports community has been waiting with bated breath on whether the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association will bench a sure gold medalist in defending men’s pole vault champion Ernest John Obiena, who is currently ranked No. 5 in the world.
Obiena, who owns the Asian record of 5.93 meters, claimed the gold in the 2019 SEA Games by clearing 5.45 m.
Included in the tentative delegation list are 177 team officials—coaches, team managers and NSA (national sports association) heads or representatives—and 20 members of the medical and administrative staff, inflating the size of the entire contingent at 874.
The 11-nation sportsfest is set May 12 to May 25 with Team Philippines participating in the majority of the sports except for xianggi (Chinese or elephant chess). INQ