The Philippine’s top athletes are slated to lead the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games delegation in the country’s title defense amid budget constraints.
On Tuesday, January 25, in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters’ Association (PSA) forum, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said that the Philippine contingent will still be of top quality, thanks to our Tokyo 2020 Olympics medalists and defending SEA Games gold medalists.
“They’re going to bring the cream. Labanan talaga na malaki chance natin (Our chances are still high),” said Tolentino.
“(Eumir) Marcial, Nesthy (Petecio), (Carlo) Paalam will defend their SEA games titles. Kung sila ang pinadala doon, they’ll get it. Mabigat talunin contingent natin kasi cream ‘yan,” he added. (If we are to send them, they’ll get it. It will be difficult to defeat us because they are the cream.)
Other star athletes who will boost the country’s chances include the country’s lone Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and Carlos Yulo, the most bemedalled Philippine SEA Games athlete in 2019 with two golds and five silver medals.
But the POC chief admitted that the limited funds have become a hindrance to the country’s preparations, which will affect the national sports associations’ plans of overseas training for the 584 Filipino athletes.
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) only has P121 million funds allocated for the SEA Games. Originally, the budget stood at P200 million, but so much money was already spent for training before the pandemic kicked.
Furthermore, the Hanoi SEA Games was delayed to May this year.
“We’re working amid all the budgetary constraints,” added Tolentino, who ended up asking himself if the Philippines can keep the overall title despite the strong challenge from host Vietnam.
“Kaya pa rin i-defend pero uphill battle (We can still defend it, but it’s an uphill battle),” said Tolentino, adding that the host country has scrapped more than 40 events where the Philippines won gold medals in 2019, and added more than 30 events where the hosts are favored to win this year.
He said that it could be a battle for second overall among the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. – Rappler.com