Photo shows the Philippine flag that was lit up with LED lights on stage at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan during the opening ceremony of the 30th Southeast Asian Games on Nov. 30.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, file
Philippines closes in on SEA Games overall championship finish 
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - December 8, 2019 - 4:33pm

MANILA, Philippines — With just three days left to close out the 30th Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) announced on Sunday that the Philippines has clinched the overall championship once again. 

This came from POC chairperson Steve Hontiveros who reasoned that the other participating countries are running out of chances to strike gold in the remaining matches, while the Philippines is expected to further add to its gold tally.

“We got this. We are overall champions. Other countries don’t have much left to get gold medals from,” said Hontiveros.

The Philippines seemed to plunge into a gold rush from the get-go, eclipsing their 2017 count for gold medals in just the second day of the contests. 

And on the ninth day of the Games, the Philippines has already notched 88 gold medals to lead the rest of the SEA Games pack as of this writing. 

This, while Indonesia and Vietnam share the second spot with just 47 gold medals each.

“This should give interest to the government and the private sector to support all the athletes in all the sports because they will realize their money won’t go to waste,” Hontiveros added.

For Philippine Sports Commission chair Butch Ramirez, the credit should go to the athletes who competed and represented the country. 

“[We are] thankful for all the sacrifice and handwork that went behind pushing their chances for a shining moment of victory,” he said.

The country's hosting advantage definitely played a part in their dominant performance as host countries typically hold the privilege of adding sports to the SEA Games roster.

A number of the sports that were also played for the first time in the history of the games were events where Team Philippines earned multiple gold medals in, such as arnis, dancesport and Kurash. 

Team Philippines last notched overall champion honors when it hosted the 23rd SEA Games back in 2005. 

In the previous SEA Games hosted by Malaysia in 2017, the Philippines emerged with a meek haul of 23 gold medals, 33 silvers and 64 bronzes to top off a humbling sixth-place finish. 

But as the country closes in on what's looking like a storybook finish to the 30th SEA Games, it looks like the Philippines has bounced back. 

And for a haphazardly organized but otherwise rewarding SEA Games campaign that saw 1,115 Filipino athletes and 753 coaches and officials representing the country in 56 different sports, the golden end is in sight for Team Philippines. 

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