Juico looks beyond SEAG to 2019 meet

Gerry Carpio - The Philippine Star

KUALA LUMPUR – If the Philippines’ bets are in peak shape for their events in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila, the Philippines may win a minimum of 12 gold medals from the 36-member athletic team that competed here.

With a cast that will include new finds from the Palarong Pambansa and the UAAP and NCAA tournaments and Fil-Americans competing in the USNCAA, that could give the Philippines a maximum of 15 gold medals, enough to be among the powers of the just-concluded SEA Games athletic competitions  – Vietnam (17), Thailand (15), Malaysia (8) and Indonesia (5.)

 The Philippines haul of 5-3-10 gold-silver-bronze medals indicates that it could win that many in terms of gold not counting the lost gold in pole vault with the absence of the injured EJ Obiena whose national record of 5.61 meters in the pole vault is the third best in Asia and the best in Southeast Asia. Add to that the 100m run gold which Eric Shaun Cray lost to a Malaysian after his win in the 400m hurdles more than an hour earlier.

After his wins in the 200 and 400m, Anthony Beram also could not put in his best to anchor the Philippine team to the 4x400m relay.

The track and field team can still draw from a huge pool to land the gold in the men’s marathon, 5,000 and 10,000m runs, the men’s and women’s long jumps, the 3,000m steeplechase, 800m run, 3,000m run, hammer throw, high jump, the 110 m hurdles, the men’s and women’s 100m and women’s 200m run, which Filipinos ruled on several occasions in the SEA Games.

The gold medals won in the Malaysian Games came from Joy Tabal in the marathon, Eric Shauwn Cray in the 400m hurdles, Trenten Anthony Beram in the 200m and 400m and Aries Toledo in the decathlon. 

All in all Juico can look at a maximum of 15 gold medals, a minimum of five and a conservative estimate of eight.

While athletics chief Popoy Juico no longer wants to make projections, taking the cue from the injuries of Cray, he has already work out the logistics with the hope of maximizing the gold medal targets leading to the 2019 SEA Games.

“Predictions are a tricky business,” said Juico.

While it concentrates on the 2019 SEA Games, Juico is looking at a long-term, or better, continuing, program that includes talent identification as early as possible on the grassroots level up to the Palarong Pambansa and the National Games for public schools and the NCAA and UAAP and PRISAA for private schools. Grassroots development and national training are part of a study Juico propounded in a book – The road map of Philippine sports – which he completed for submission to Malacañang when he was chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission.

Juico, who holds a PhD in management, was a professor at the Asian Institute of Management and dean of the Graduate School of Business of his alma mater, De La Salle University before he retired and went back into sports.

Through a memorandum of understanding, the track and field association and the Ayala Group are finalizing the concept for the establishment of a track oval at an Ayala property in Imus, Cavite for use for local competitions and the training of national athletes since its original venue, the Rizal Memorial track oval, is already being used by the Azkals football team. 

The tracks at the government-owned Ultra in Pasig, where EJ Obiena injured his knee on a wrong landing in the pole vault, are in need of repairs. The area for field events is always soaked by the rains while the tracks are not up to competition standards.

Looking beyond the SEA Games, PATAFA has also entered into an agreement with a Japanese firm for the training of national athletes in Nagoya, Japan leading to the Asian Games next year, the 2019 Manila SEA Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Juico left Malaysia on the second day of the athletic competitions here to be in Manila for the signing of the contract and flew back here the next day to join the team.

When informed by Juico of his plans to hold a leg of the Asian Grand Prix in the Philippines,the Ayala Group also showed keen interest in holding not just one but all three legs, with the venues to be a choice of Baguio, Isabela, Zambales and Imus, Cavite.

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