2021 SEAG is the real test
EVEN as our medal winners in the recently-concluded 30th Southeast Asian Games are enjoying their hard-earned incentives just in time for Christmas, I am already looking ahead to 2021.
Will there be a repeat performance in the 2021 SEA Games for the Filipino athletes?
A few days ago, I was in Conrad Hotel for a Champions’ Summit press conference where media people got a chance to talk to several SEAG medalists, from bronze to gold medals in different disciplines. I took the opportunity to ask the first question. I said I have been involved in sportswriting for the last 40 years or so and I have seen the times when we fared well in the SEA Games like in 1991and 2005.
I’m a little bit concerned on how the national athletes react after a successful SEA Games campaign.
In 1991, PH won 91 gold medals but in 1993 it went down to 57.
In 2005, the Filipinos collected 113 golds but in 2007, the gold medal count dropped to 41.
In the last SEAG, we won 149 golds in 56 sports but I heard host Vietnam will only have about 40 disciplines in 2021.
So my question is: How do we avoid a huge slide in 2021?
I am sure, most Filipinos will have high expectations in 2021 after seeing how we dominated this year’s event.
But then, we will not have the hometown crowd which contributed a lot to the country’s campaign this year. For sure, we will not be sending more than a thousand athletes in Vietnam and I believe, this will be a major factor.
I asked the athletes first and from their replies, two things were identified as the crucial factors: Government funding for training and international exposure, and the national sports association (NSA) leadership.
Another athlete said venues for all kinds of sports should be made available for the athletes.
For the funding side, if I were to base it on the announcement that the government will spend 100 million pesos for our 2020 Tokyo Olympics preparation, then I am confident that there will be enough funding for the 2021 SEA Games preparation. Of course, it will not be in the same magnitude as this year but definitely, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) will allocate money for training and exposure.
It may be the NSA leadership that will a big question mark. Blu Girls team captain Cheska Altamonte pointed out that the NSAs should not depend solely on the government but should also raise its own funds. Softball is fortunate that sportsman businessman Jean Henri Lhuillier is there to support softball but not all NSAs are as fortunate and that will be the challenge.
Gymnastics head Cynthia Carrion was right in saying the legacy left by the last SEA Games would be the world-class facilities left behind, and promised that the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will take care of the NSAs.
There is no secret as to the successful formula in sports, we all know that, but are all going to do the things that need to be done?
Merry Christmas to all and the truth is, I got my wish in advance, we won that one.
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