394 bets SEAG-bound
Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) - February 14, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Two weeks before the deadline set by organizers of the 28th Southeast Asian Games, the number of athletes that will represent the Philippines in Singapore in June has been pegged at 394.

“That should be it. If there will be changes it will be very minimal,” said Philippine chef-de-mission Julian Camacho yesterday.

The long-time official of the Wushu Federation of the Philippines provided The STAR a printout of the official number of athletes and the accompanying officials (103).

Barring any changes, the Philippine delegation to the Singapore SEA Games will be composed of 497 men and women.

Camacho said the number of athletes was a far cry from the previous list of over 600 submitted by the 33 different NSAs (national sports associations).

“We tried to maintain the quality but at the same time gave some young and upcoming athletes the chance to gain experience,” said Camacho, also treasurer of the Philippine Olympic Committee.

“But they had to justify their inclusion. Otherwise, the number of athletes would have exceeded 600,” he added.

The deadline for the submission of the final list of entries falls on March 1.

The Philippines will compete in 33 of 36 events lined up in Singapore, excluding netball (derived from the early version of basketball), floorball (a floor version of hockey) and hockey.

There are 402 gold medals to be disputed in Singapore with aquatics offering the most with 51, followed by athletics (46), shooting (26), sailing/windsurfing and wushu (20 each), rowing (18), canoeing (17), gymnastics (16), taekwondo (15), pencak silat (13), fencing and judo (12 each), and  boxing and water ski (11 each).

The Philippines will field 34 athletes each in track and field and softball, 24 each in aquatics, basketball and rugby 7s, 20 in football, 14 each in taekwondo and traditional boat race, 13 each in wushu and sailing/windsurfing, and 12 in volleyball.

In the official list, the number of volleyball players are printed in red (for POC decision).

Camacho said if Filipino athletes can win at least 10 percent of the total number of golds at stake, it should be enough to carry the country to a better finish.

“We’re still looking at 40 to 50 golds medals – wherever it takes us. The goal is to improve on our finish in 2013 in Myanmar -- whether it’s sixth, fifth fourth or higher,” he said.

The Philippines fielded a token delegation of 210 athletesin 2013 and went home with 29 gold, 34 silver and 37 bronze medals for seventh place.

It’s the lowest finish for the country in the SEA Games, and sports officials are hoping that this time the country can move and finish a few notches higher.

In 2011 in Indonesia, the Philippines sent 512 athletes (36-56-77) for sixth place. In 2009 in Laos, only 153 athletes went (38-35-51) and ended fifth overall.

In 2005, the Philippines, as host, fielded 743 athletes, and won the overall crown (113-84-94), and two years later in Thailand, the Philippines, with a limited budget, sent 620 athletes and fell to sixth (41-91-96).

“We are confident that we can surpass our 2013 showing,” said Camacho.

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